ETSU Jazz Faculty & Friends to perform at Bonnie Kate Theater Sept. 29

Published 5:53 pm Friday, September 25, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
The language of Jazz will grace the stage of the Bonnie Kate Theater on Tuesday, Sept. 29.
This is the third part of the jazz series being performed at the theater.
The ETSU Faculty Jazz Band is made up of musicians with a variety of experiences under their belt. This set of performers in particular are unlike any other…and this is their first time performing together. 
Members performing on Tuesday include: 
  • Dan Hitchcock on Saxophone
    • Hitchcock is originally from Columbus, Ohio. He is a saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, and educator with a deep love for swinging jazz music. As a performer, he has performed with numerous groups including the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Columbus Jazz Orchestra, Sweet Megg & the Wayfarers, Piedmont Triad Jazz Orchestra, Brandon Lee/Aaron Matson Quintet, Steve Haines Quintet, North Carolina Symphony Pops, Roanoke Symphony Pops, as well as studio work with various artists in and around central North Carolina.
    • In the summer of 2019, he was selected as one of 8 semi-finalists worldwide to compete in the Michael Brecker International Saxophone Competition at the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, Israel. Dan joined the jazz faculty at ETSU in 2019 and teaches saxophone along with his wife, Emily.
  • Martin Walters on Bass
    • Walters is the Director of Jazz Studies and Professor of Practice in Recording Arts at East Tennessee State University. Walters brings his professional experience to the classroom. Educated at the University of North Texas, he established a successful career as a performer, recording engineer and producer. He has recorded with artists such as Spyro Gyra, Dave Koz, Patti Labelle, Grover Washington Jr., Richard Elliot, Philip Bailey of Earth Wind and Fire, Sly Stone, Tina Marie, Kirk Whalum, Melissa Etheridge, Emmylou Harris, Sarah McLachlan, Stanley Turrentine, Najee and many others.
    • Walters has engineered and mixed numerous top charting and Grammy winning albums including “Best Contemporary World Music Album” with Ladysmith Black Mambazo in 2018, Dianne Reeves “Beautiful Life” in 2014, Terri Lyne Carrington’s “Mosaic Project” in 2011 and “Jazz Record of the Year” with Esperanza Spalding in 2009 and received a Grammy nomination for Best Surround Sound Album in 2004.
  • Matthew Geiger on Drums
    • Geiger is Assistant Professor of Percussion at ETSU. His recent performances have focused on solo vibraphone both in the jazz idiom as well as contemporary repertoire. He has recorded for Naxos and Mark Records, including performing as percussionist and timpanist on the Grammy nominated recording of Darius Milhaud’s “L’Orestie, d’Eschyle”. Along with international solo performances in Sweden and China, he performed a vibraphone concerto with Science Hill High School at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in 2018 and was named the winner of the 2013 International Solo Vibraphone Competition by the Percussive Arts Society. He also serves on the World Percussion Committee dedicated to bringing more diverse musical experiences to students and professionals. 
    • Geiger is a Yamaha Performing Artist and Educational Artist for Zildjian Cymbals, Innovative Percussion and Black Swamp Percussion.
  • Colton Fenner on Keyboards
    • Fenner has been playing the piano since he was three years old. He first became interested in jazz while taking music courses under Rick Simerly at Milligan University and while performing with the Milligan Jazz Ensemble and the Milligan Jazz Combo. He graduated from Milligan University in 2017 with a degree in Digital Media. In May 2020, he graduated from ETSU with an M.A. in Brand & Media Strategies. While at ETSU he played with the ETSU Jazz Ensemble (under the direction  of Martin Walters). He’s been the pianist for the Tri-Cities Jazz Orchestra since it was founded in 2017. 
    •  Fenner just finished recording Magi, a solo piano Christmas album which will be released this fall.
Walters expressed his excitement for the group to perform together. 
“We are very excited to finally be able to get to play together,” he said. ”Ever since Matthew arrived on the scene as our new percussion professor, we have been trying to find time to play, but our schedules always seemed to get in the way.”
Walters explained that due to COVID-19, performing together has been difficult to say the least. 
“Dan was our guest artist for the ETSU Jazz Ensemble’s Holiday Music concert last year, and we had planned on doing a performance last spring with the jazz faculty, but due to COVID-19 everything was cancelled,” he said. 
This upcoming performance is met with excitement from the group. 
“This is a difficult time for musicians all over the country and I am happy that the Bonnie Kate Theater provided an opportunity to bring back live music in the safest environment possible,” said Walters. ”This is good news not only for our local jazz community, but also for students in our program who haven’t been able to attend any live concerts.”
He explained that Jazz is an interactive performance that needs to be live. 
“You simply cannot do this on Zoom,” he said. ”In fact, due to the current circumstances, our performance Tuesday will be completely unrehearsed, which is not atypical for a jazz band.” 
Other members apart of the group who are unable to perform on Tuesday include Michael Jefry Stevens on piano, and Mike Baggetta on guitar. 
The group had a message of appreciation for the Bonnie Kate Theater. 
“We’d like to extend a special thanks to Jeff Treadway from the Bonnie Kate Theater and Bill Perkins from the Johnson City Jazz Jam for making this all possible,” said Walters. ”I hope everyone will come out and support their efforts and our local musicians.”
Due to COVID-19, tickets are limited to 50. COVID-19 guidelines will be in effect for all concerts. The Riverside Tap House will be present offering a selection of their craft beers and limited food items will also be available for our audience. Tickets for this event are $10 online or at the door. Online Tickets can be purchased at:  
The show will be from 8-10 p.m.
For more information on ETSU Jazz, go to or check out their Facebook page. 

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox