Best known in town for his environmental work, STEVE HILTNER is a longtime jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, composer and leader of Sustainable Jazz.
He is also musical director for an all-originals jazz/latin group based in Ann Arbor, called the Lunar Octet. Over nearly 40 years, this larger group has performed its original jazz/latin music at festivals in the midwest and California, including three performances at the Montreux Detroit Jazz Festival.
Classically trained on clarinet, saxophone and piano, 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. After learning music theory from books and jazz standards, he gained formal training in counterpoint and orchestration at the University of Michigan. Steve can trace his teacher-student lineage three generations back to composer Bela Bartok, and two generations back to Detroit saxophone great Yusef Lateef.
Steve has brought multiple talents to bear in life, as composer, naturalist, piano teacher, nonprofit leader, and writer/performer of climate change theater. His organic style of composition draws inspiration from the great composers of jazz, Latin and classical genres, from Wayne Shorter to Tadd Dameron to Brahms. Steve’s compositions, capturing felicitous moments in the musical stream of his thoughts, have been compared to the opening of a flower. A recent CD, “Until I Find the Words”, features his original compositions across a broad range of jazz and Latin styles.
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.
THE LARGER SUSTAINABLE JAZZ COMMUNITY
--Some top musicians in the area who perform periodically with Sustainable Jazz
STEVE KRAMER -- Piano
KEITH FRANKLIN -- Piano
PETER LAUFFER -- Piano
RON CONNOR -- Piano
COLT MORRIS -- 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.