Monday, May 17, 2010

Sustainable Jazz Ensemble

Based in Princeton, NJ, the Sustainable Jazz Ensemble plays all-original jazz composed using only local, organic ingredients, natural chord progressions and solar-powered imaginations. No virgin timbres are harvested for their performances.

Titles include The Case of the Kidnapped Kalypso, Fresh Paint (composed while breathing latex fumes in a freshly painted room), Lejos de Aqui (Far from Here), and Lunar Eclipse (composed while forgetting to check out the lunar eclipse that was going on outside).


Stephen Hiltner, saxophone

Best known in town for his environmental work, Steve is a longtime jazz saxophonist and composer who in his life-before-Princeton was musical director for an all-originals jazz/latin group in Ann Arbor, called the Lunar Octet. The group played festivals in Michigan and beyond, including three performances at the Montreux Detroit Jazz Festival. Steve got his start in jazz in the II-V-I Orchestra, playing gigs with many of the top players on the Detroit jazz scene, including a pre-Miles Kenny Garrett. During that time, he studied sax improvisation with Sam Sanders, an instructor at Oakland University and former student of Detroit jazz legend, Yusef Lateef.

Steve has also taught piano, composing many beginner to intermediate tunes for his students in blues and classical genres.

Phil Orr, keyboard

Phil Orr serves on the music faculties of Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts and The Lawrenceville School, as well as serving as Minister of Music at Calvary Baptist Church in Hopewell, NJ. His early studies with noted jazz educators John Mehegan and Neil Slater led to work in the mid 1970s as accompanist and sometime arranger for singers Vic Damone and Sandler & Young. Phil has been privileged to share stages, dim back-rooms and smoke-filled bars with Dave Liebman, Frank Foster, Danny Stiles, Bill Watrous, Melvin Sparks and Art Davis, among many others. Mr. Orr and Rider colleague Jerry Rife co-lead the annual “Cool Yule Jazz” concerts each December at Westminster.

Jerry D’Anna, bass

Jerry D’Anna is a versatile freelance bass player, doubling on both electric and acoustic basses. His work with jazz, theater, folk, rock and blues bands has taken him from his native metro New York-Philadelphia environs to tours in Europe and the Caribbean, with such notables as singers Jeanie Bryson, Barbara McNair and Frank D’Rone, trumpeters Michael Mossman and Terence Blanchard, drummer Elvin Jones, saxophonists Sonny Fortune and Pat LaBarbara, and pianists Kenny Barron, Steve Kramer and John Bianculli. Mr. D’Anna received a Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Rutgers University, and studied privately with Rick Laird, Larry Ridley, Homer Mensch, Lou Kosma and Lisle Atkinson. Now settled in the Princeton area, he works in the financial services software industry, performing locally with the Midiri Brothers Orchestra and Jerry Rife’s Rhythm Kings.

(Thanks to Clancy August for the band photo)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

SJE Written Up in the Princeton Packet

Pam Hersh, longtime writer and former managing editor of The Princeton Packet, wrote a column about our group's performance at the Whole Earth Center's WECstock 40th birthday celebration this past weekend. She riffed on the concept of sustainability in jazz, and said "the saxophone, keyboard and bass filled the air with joyful, dreamy sounds."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

SJE Plays McCarter Theatre

Though the seats were empty, the stage was packed, as the SJE trio played for a party celebrating McCarter artistic director Emily Mann's 20 years of extraordinary leadership. It also happened to be her birthday. A great honor it was to play for such an occasion.