Bill Cunliffe is a jazz pianist, composer and Grammy Award-winning arranger. The 1989 winner of the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition, he performs around the world as a leader and sideman and as a soloist with symphony orchestra.
Bill moved to the Dayton area after graduating from the Eastman School of Music to teach at Central State University. During this time, his group ‘Bout Time,
featuring drummer Carmon De Leone, worked extensively in the Cincinnati area. One of his closest friends, legendary bassist Dave Carpenter, left Ohio to work with Buddy Rich and Frank Sinatra, and after a few months convinced Bill to leave town.
After Bill’s stint with Buddy and Frank, he settled back in Cincinnati where he was part of the Greenwich Trio, with Art Gore and Jim Anderson. They performed with most of the greats in modern jazz, including James Moody, Art Farmer, Woody Shaw, Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Burrell and Junior Cook. Bill also produced a well-received album for vocalist Kathy Wade, and contributed orchestral arrangements to several Cincinnati Pops Orchestra recordings, including “Bond and Beyond.”
Cunliffe was awarded a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement for “West Side Story Medley,” on the album “Resonance Big Band Plays Tribute to Oscar Peterson” (Resonance Records, 2009); and has more than a dozen albums under his name. “That Time of Year” (Metre Records, 2011), an album of solo improvisations on Christmas carols was described as a “tour de force” in the Los Angeles Times. Cunliffe’s film-scoring work includes the score for “On the Shoulders of Giants,” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s award-winning documentary about the Harlem Rens basketball team of the 1920s and ’30s.
In addition to his work as jazz studies professor at Cal State Fullerton, Cunliffe teaches at the Skidmore Jazz Institute and the Vail Jazz Workshop.
Professor Emeritus at Northern Kentucky University where he taught for 30 years, is a Cincinnati baritone saxophonist and arranger who has performed with a wide variety of outstanding American jazz, pop and classical musicians—from Woody Herman to Tiny Tim. Dickson has backed such major vocalists as soul singers Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and James Brown; country stars Eddy Arnold, Ray Price and Roy Clark; Vegas
headliners Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Tom Jones; blues crooners Joe Williams, Billy Eckstine and Cab Calloway; and jazz divas Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Nancy Wilson. He has also played for comic legends Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis and Don Rickles, as well as a host of jazz luminaries like Dizzy Gillespie, Erroll Garner and Louie Bellson, among many others.
Larry has recorded with Dave Brubeck, Gerry Mulligan, Doc Severinsen, Mel Torme and extensively with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, for which he played from 1970 to 2000. On several occasions Dickson performed on baritone saxophone with the Cincinnati Symphony and has played Carnegie Hall with the Pops. He is a charter member of Cincinnati’s award- winning Blue Wisp Big Band, for which he has become one of its major arrangers. Larry has recorded on the Decca, King, Telarc, Mopro, J-Curve, Red Mark and Sea Breeze labels. Most currently he has released a series of CDs loosely connected to the four seasons and featuring the Larry Dickson Jazz Quartet performing his original compositions
One recent national jazz reviewer, commenting enthusiastically about Dickson’s sax sound, proclaimed that it “has been honed through years of dedication to the baritone saxophone in a jazz setting. And for that we are grateful.”
Pat Kelly has been a part of the Cincinnati music scene for many years, and music began early in his life. He took trumpet lessons at age 11; at 14 he taught himself piano realizing that he could easily pick out melodies and harmonies. In these early teen years, he began writing music and playing organ in a rock band.
His formal piano training began at 18 at the University
of Cincinnati-CCM. Kelly’s earliest musical experiences included learning jazz by frequenting nightclubs where great local jazz musicians performed
like Jimmy McGary, Alex Cirin, and Cal Collins; he gradually began playing gigs with these experienced musicians as his talents progressed.
Pat was the original house pianist at Cincinnati’s Blue Wisp Jazz Club when it opened
in 1978, and was a member of the Jimmy McGary Quartet.
After earning a Bachelor of
Music Degree in Composition from CCM in 1984, Kelly moved to Florida and continued playing professionally.
After returning to Cincinnati 1987, Pat’s newly formed 13-piece PsychoAcoustic Orchestra made a mark on the Cincinnati music scene. The PAO gave jazz aficionados a fresh look at big band music, successfully blending jazz, rock, funk, Latin, European art music and avant-garde.
He also served as co-leader and music director of one of the city’s first salsa groups, Latin X-Posure. Kelly also has had the opportunity to score a feature film, ARTWORKS.
Kelly has been influenced by the music of many: Charles Mingus, Frank Zappa, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Chick Corea, and more. He has performed with many well-known musicians including the Blue Wisp Big Band and Dee Felice Big Band.
Pat continues his musical work for public/private performances, community theater, and is the music director of Hillel of Cincinnati’s Campus Superstar competition.
George Russell was a jazz pianist, composer, arranger and theorist and is one of the first jazz musicians
to contribute to general music theory with a theory of harmony based on jazz, rather than European music. Born in Cincinnati, he started playing drums and eventually attended Wilberforce University on a scholarship.
Russell’s most valuable musical education came in 1941. While attempting to join the Marines, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and spent six
months in the hospital where he was taught the fundamentals of harmony by a fellow patient. While in the hospital he sold his first composition. After his release he moved to New York City to concentrate on composing, joining a group of innovators including Miles Davis, Max Roach, and Charlie Parker. It was a remark by Miles that set him on the course that became his life’s work --- which would become his Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, a theory he published in 1953 that would affect composition and the sound of jazz in the future.
Russell began leading his own sextets, but disillusioned by his lack of recognition and the meager work opportunities in America, he left for Scandinavia in 1964, where he found support for both himself and his music. In 1969, he returned to teach at the newly created Jazz Department at the New England Conservatory. Russell continued to compose and his 1985 recording, “The African Game,” received two Grammy nominations. His Living Time Orchestra performed and recorded abroad for two decades.
Russell has received numerous accolades including the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the National Endowment for the Arts American Jazz Master, and election to the Swedish Royal Academy of Music. George Russell died of complication from Alzheimer’s Disease in July 2009.
Lou Lausche, a bassist and violinist, was born in Athens, OH. He began playing the violin at age nine, and at the urging of a childhood friend, began taking bass lessons at age 14. Lausche started playing gigs as early as 15 years old and continued through high school and while attending Ohio University.
Lausche married and moved to Cincinnati to attend law
school at the University of Cincinnati. He also continued his bass studies with Charles Medcalfe with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. After being
admitted to Ohio Bar in 1965, Lausche started playing in the Cincinnati area with local dance bands including: Pete Wagner Orchestra, Will Hauser Orchestra, and many more; and jazz groups with familiar musicians like Eddie Morgan, Wayne Yeager, and numerous others.
In the 1970’s, Lou played at the Beverly Hills Supper Club with The Bill Layne Orchestra; and at The Lookout House with the L & M Big Band. In 1975, he started the Lausche Recording Studios. The early 1980’s, he began a long tenure as a member of The Dee Felice Sleepycat Band, and also played at Dee’s with The Frank Vincent Trio and vocalist, Larry Kinley. Lausche began a 10-year stay at The Netherland Hotel and another long-term gig at The Celestial Incline Lounge.
Working in nightclubs, recording sessions, and concerts in the Tri-State area for decades has given Lausche an astounding repertoire and opportunities to play with many acclaimed local jazz musicians, as well as with world-famous musicians such as John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Janis Joplin and Willie Nelson.
Lou continues to perform and serve the music community as a member of the Board of Trustees of The Cincinnati Musicians’ Association, and he has become an Honorary 50-yr Life Member of Local No. 1.
DUO: DON STEINS
Don Steins is a keyboardist, arranger and saxophonist who earned a Bachelor of Music degree in performance from Northern Kentucky University in 2002 while also attending the University of Kentucky where he studied saxophone. While at UK, Don performed and recorded with the University of Kentucky #1 Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combo & Mega-Sax ensembles. He was awarded the honor as outstanding soloist with the UK jazz ensemble
at the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival in 1999.
He has performed extensively throughout the US, with such well-known celebrities as Manhattan Transfer, Pattie La Belle, Andy Williams, Vicki Carr, The Judds, and numerous other artists.
Steins has appeared as soloist with the Paul Hawthorne Quartet at the Fifth Third Bank, It’s Commonly Jazz Series, in Cincinnati, The UJIMA Cinci-Bration 2000 Jazz Festival, opened for Shirley Horn at the Crown Jewels of Jazz Concert Series at Music Hall 2000, and performed at the Cincinnati Symphony Concert Series 2002 / 2003. He was a part- time faculty for 12 years at NKU and worked with the NKU Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Don was Musical Director, Arranger, and Keyboardist for the Cincinnati Reds/Ben-Gals at Cinergy Field for two seasons, and recently was featured as guest soloist with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra.
Don is still an active performer and arranger for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines,
The Powerhouse Boogie Band, Don Steins / Paul Hawthorne Big Band, and the
Paul Hawthorne / Don Steins Jazz Trio & Quartet; and is currently musical director, since 2006 for Kona Ice INC., and he is a member of the Cincinnati Musician’s Union, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity and, Northern Kentucky Chamber Of Commerce.
DUO: PAUL HAWTHORNE
Paul Hawthorne is a master of the vibraphone and a vocalist with a unique smooth style that reminds many of Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, or Frank Sinatra. He was born in Mobile, AL in 1952 and his family moved
to Cincinnati in 1958. Hawthorne attended Washburn Elementary, Bloom Jr. High, and Robert E. Taft High School. He received a diploma from the Atterbury
Job Corps Academy where he studied in the Culinary Arts program.
Hawthorne’s musical influence came from his admiration for vibraphonist, Lionel Hampton, so he devoted his time between his passion for cooking and learning to play the vibraphone. His singing voice came quite naturally to him, and he began singing and playing vibes together—a rare gift. His talents were soon recognized by his peers, and in the early 1970’s he began working gigs regularly with many musicians around the Cincinnati music scene. From 1980 to 1985, The Paul Hawthorne Jazz Quartet had a 5-year tenure at the Cincinnati Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Besides his numerous radio and television guest appearances, Paul Hawthorne and Company has performed extensively throughout the tri-state area at both public and private events including: the Cincinnati Symphony Concert Series, Fine Arts Fund, Fifth Third Banks - (It’s Commonly Jazz at Swifton, Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati Art Museum, Northern Kentucky University Vocal Jazz Series, Doug Pelfry’s (Kicks For Kids), local country clubs, Celestial Restaurant, and local casinos.
Paul has been a part of the Cincinnati music scene for over 30 years and still performs with many musicians including Don Steins/Paul Hawthorne and Company. He continues to entertain audiences with his amazing vibraphone skills and his unique vocal style.