Western Jazz Quartet
with Sunny Wilkinson, Vocals
8 p.m.
February 23, 2002
First United Methodist Church,
Port Huron, Michigan
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The Western Jazz Quartet is a resident faculty ensemble in the School of Music at Western Michigan University.  Founded in 1974, the quartet combines performing and teaching with uncommon success as they promote jazz music and jazz education through a very active schedule of tours, concerts and workshops.  Activities range from performances for school children of all ages to concerts and tours with such artists as Art Farmer, Bob Brookmeyer, Red Rodney, Kenny Werner, Mark Murphy, Randy Brecker, Eddie Daniels, Bobby Shew, Dave Liebman, Janis Siegel and Bobby McFerrin.
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The Western Jazz Quartet has performed from Boston to Los Angeles and has toured several times to Europe, South and Central America.  It has been featured at festivals in Canada and the U.S., and at a week of performances at La Villa in Paris, France.  The group was honored with sponsorship by the Arts America Program of the United States Information Agency which arranged a three-week tour of South America in the summer of 1993, with concerts in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.  The quartet has also toured Poland twice with pianist Wlodek Pawlik and drummer Billy Hart, and a third time with Randy Brecker.
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The Western Jazz Quartet released The Waning Moon on Universal Records in 1999.  The recording features elements of Polish culture fused with the universal language of jazz.  The quartet has toured Europe twice promoting this music, which was premiered at the International Association of Jazz Educators conference in Los Angeles.  The group has released three CDs in the U.S.; Firebird (1992, SMR Recordings), Blue Harts (1995, SMR Recordings), and Sabine's Dance (2000, Seabreeze Jazz).  Both Firebird and Blue Harts received top reviews in Down Beat Magazine, with Firebird being named one of the best of the 1990s.  In 1995, the group released a live CD in Europe on the Koch International label with pianist Wlodek Pawlik, Live at the Jazz Club Akwarium, and in 1996, a second European release with Randy Brecker, Turtles, on Polonia Records.
 
In April of 1996, the quartet was invited to tour Thailand in honor of the 50th anniversary of the king's accession to the throne.  The Western Jazz Quartet has recently been appearing as soloists with symphony orchestras performing Patrick Williams' An American Concerto and other works.

Sunny Wilkinson, Vocals
One of the most inventive and flexible singers of her generation, Sunny Wilkinson is a mischievous vocal stylist who loves to toy with rhythm and tonal color.  Her wide range, marvelous intonation, effortless agility, and passion for what she sings make her a one-of-a-kind artist.  Her performance credits are impressive having sung with The Count Basie Band, Rob McConnell and the The Boss Brass, Mark Murphy, Milt Hinton, Marvin Stamm, Bill Mays, Bill Watrous, Curtis Fuller and Edgar Winter, among others.  Sunny's latest release is a big band CD on Chartmaker Jazz, called Sunny Wilkinson "High Wire".  Her other CDs are Algeria on the Hibrite Label, and Sunny Wilkinson on the Positive Music Label.  Sunny performs regularly at jazz festivals and clubs across the country and teaches jazz voice at Western Michigan University and at Michigan State University.  She is past president of the Michigan chapter of the International Association of Jazz Educators and past chairperson for IAJE's Women's Caucus.  She is co-founder of the Sisters in Jazz mentoring program, which has been implemented internationally through IAJE.

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