Music & Events

Fri., Oct. 17 -- 8 p.m.

Allen ZurcherWalker Recital Hall, Mercyhurst University, 501 East 38th St, Erie, PA
General Admission $5.

Produced by JazzErie.  Sponsored by Erie Art & Culture, SoMar Dance Works and Mercyhurst University.

An innovative adventure in sound and dance which will bring together improvised jazz music from the Allen Zurcher Quartet with improvised dance by students from the SoMar Dance Works, who are also students at Mercyhurst University's Dance Department. Should be fun!

Improvisation in Music.

Spontaneous, in-the-moment improvisation is an integral aspect of jazz music.  While found in many other musical genres, improvisation is a core characteristic in the art of jazz. From the earliest days of Dixieland group improvisation to the breathtaking flights of individual solo performances in the ensuing years, as well as the sometimes under appreciated improvised supporting performances by rhythm section and other accompanists, the skill of finding ways to make meaningful, expressive music on the spot is a crucial element that makes jazz what it is.

Peterson, Blaetz, Zurcher, Ferguson
Members of the Allen Zurcher Quartet are:

  •    Zurcher -- saxophones and flute
  •    Sheldon Peterson -- guitar
  •    David Blaetz -- bass
  •    Matt Ferguson -- drums

Top artists

All have built their reputations as top artists in the by performances with this ensemble at the Erie Art Museum Blues & Jazz Fest, concerts during the past year at Mercyhurst and Gannon Universities, and many other venues.  

All are also members of other top ensembles:
   Zurcher as music director of the Misery Bay Big Band, the Presque Isle Saxophone Quartet, and many other groups.  Zurcher holds a D.A. degree in music performance and composition;
   Peterson and Blaetz as members of the Heliotropes, Charles Ventrello's Sack O' Bones, Potato Battery, and many earlier groups;
   Ferguson with a host of area small groups, including trios with pianists Jim Madden and Basil Ronzitti, and guitarist/singer Marty O'Conner, Potato Battery, and others.

SoMar Dance Works Improvisation in Dance.

According to Wikopedia, "Dance improvisation is not only about creating new movement but is also defined as freeing the body from habitual movement patterns.  Improvised dance has a considerable history in America, including postmodern dance with its incorporation of everyday movements, the "contact improvisation" of the Judson Dance Theater, and other creative streams.

Dancers in the Mercyhurst concert are all studying under the tutelage of dance professors Solveig and Mark Santillano, partners in the SoMar Dance Works.

International reputations.

Mark holds an MFA from Wesleyan University, has toured the world with various troupes, including Pilobus Dance, with whom he danced at the Olympics, appeared on TV and won an Emmy.  SoMar is currently in residence at Marcyhurst.  Mark is also president of the Erie Dance Consortium.

Solveig Santillano hails from South Dakota, also holds an MFA from Wesleyan, toured for six years with MOMIX dance company, performing in New York, throughout the U.S., in Italy and Korea, appearing on TV in both countries.  She headed the Dance Department at Salem State College in Massachusetts before coming to Mercyhurst.  Solveig and Mark have a sixteen year old daughter, Ella.
SoMar Dance Works
And more.

There's much more to the resumes of all of these fine artists, not to mention the students who will be performing.  Come see how, within the constraints of their various disciplines, they address the exciting challenges of making it up together as they go along!!

Additional Upcoming Events.

At least one more event is securely fixed on the JazzErie 2014-15 Performance Calender.  

On Saturday, Feb. 7, JazzErie will present "Words & Music," a program combining poetry and jazz, at the Erie Art Museum, 5th Street entrance.  Original poems will be presented by poets from Poets' Hall, convened by Chuck Joy, who will also participate.  Musicians will be convened by Dick Thompson and Jimmy Cuneo (Blues Beaters).  There'll be some poems read alone, some music played by the band, and a lot of poems with musical accompaniment and participation.  SAVE THE DATE.  


August 18, 2014