Guest Artist Recital
Percussion Studies Chair Thomas Collier and bassist Dan Dean join acclaimed percussionist Alex Acuña (known for his work with Weather Report) and pianist Don Grusin in a program of original works for jazz quartet.
Alex Acuña, percussion
Born in Pativilca, Peru, 100 miles north of Lima, Alex Acuña was born into a musical family that inspired him and helped shape him as a musician. His father and five brothers were all musicians. Alex taught himself how to play the drums from the age of four. By the time Alex turned ten, he was already playing in local bands. As a teenager, he moved to Lima and became one of Peru's most accomplished session drummers, performing on many recording projects for artists, as well as film and television productions.
In Lima, Alex also earned a glowing reputation for his live performances. So much so, that at the age of eighteen, Alex was chosen by the great Latin band leader, Perez Prado, to join his big band. It was with the Prado band that Alex first traveled to the United States. In 1967, Alex moved to Puerto Rico to work as a studio musician and play locally. During this period, he also studied for three years at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music, playing as a classical percussionist with the Symphony Orchestra under the direction of the famed Spanish cellist master Pablo Casals.
Alex moved to Las Vegas in 1974, where he played with such greats as Elvis Presley and Diana Ross. Between 1975 and 1977, he made part of jazz history when he became both drummer and percussionist for one of the most innovative and pioneering jazz groups of our time, Weather Report. He first performed as percussionist (October 1975 to April 1976), and later as drummer (April 1976 to October 1977). He recorded two albums with the group: "Black Market" (1976) and the highly successful "Heavy Weather" (1977), which included the famous tracks "Birdland" and "Havona." "Heavy Weather" became the first jazz-fusion album to sell a million copies.
Alex next moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1978 where he quickly earned the position of a valued session drummer and percussionist for recordings, television and motion pictures. His countless album credits include such diverse artist as U2, Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Ella Fitzgerald, Whitney Houston, Sergio Mendes, Yellow Jackets, Chic Corea, Julio Iglesias, Koinonia, Juan Gabriel, Luis Miguel, Placido Domingo, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul and many more. Alex has also performed live with the likes of Al Jarreau, Roberta Flack, Antonio Carlos Jobim, The Gipsy Kings, Paco de Lucia, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, Christina Aguilera and Tito Puente, to name a few. Additionally, Alex has recorded film scores under the direction of Dave Grusin, Alan Silvestri, Michele Legrand, Bill Conti, Michele Colombier, Marvin Hamlish, Maurice Jarre, Mark Isham, Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Lalo Schiffrin and others. He became the recipient of many awards and honors including the Emeritus MVP award from NARAS (National Academy of Recording for the Arts and Sciences) and winner of the "Best Latin/Brazilian Percussionist" of Modern Drummer's Readers Poll for five consecutive years.
Alex's South American and Caribbean roots and understanding of contemporary and classical music make him a complete and skilled master musician. In 2000, Alex Acuña y Su Acuarela De Tambores received a Grammy nomination for "Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album" for "Rhythms for a New Millennium". This solo album included varying styles of Latin, South American and African percussion. The nomination confirmed Alex's vast knowledge and expertise of percussion rhythms. Zan Stewart of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Alex Acuña is the epitome of the world music percussionist, to whom no style is a stranger". In addition, Alex has composed music for various artists and produced "Thinking of You" by Alex Acuña and the Unknowns, "Rumberos Poetry" by Tolú and "Aliyah" by Kay Silberling. This year will also see the release of Tolú's "Bongo de Van Gogh," the Unknowns follow-up album, and several projects for NIDO Entertainment.
Alex is widely known as an educator, gifted teacher and clinician of drums and percussion. He has recorded four solo instructional videos and provides seminars at universities such as UC Los Angeles, Berklee School of Music in Boston and other top international schools of music. DW Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Gon Bops Percussion, Gibraltar, Vic Firth, Evans and Shure microphones all sponsor Alex. He is also credited with the design of Zildjian's "Azuka" line of cymbals, signature Vic Firth sticks and the caddy stick bag, the Alex Acuña signature line of congas, bongos, timbales, cajons, and bells from Gon Bops Percussion.
Innovation, energy and pure heart characterize Alex's playing. It is easy to see why Alex Acuña is one of the most sought after musicians of our time. Alex recognizes his music as a gift from the Lord and gives all the glory to God!
Don Grusin, percussion
Born in Colorado and influenced mightily by his immigrant father from Latvia, Don grew up in Colorado as a wannabe cowboy, played sports in school, and always had music as something to fall back on – if you grew up in the Grusin household, you had to practice piano. Don started when he was 6, and his musical influences came from square-dancing to country-western bands at the grange; from pianists Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans and Vladimir Horowitz; to his dad’s strolling through the house playing 2nd violin parts of Bartok string quartets.
Also of influence was their small town R&B radio station where Don digested the music of the great soul and funk bands and singers. This is how Don’s interest in African and Latin American music was born. Adding to this was his older brother Dave, who pointed him, unwittingly really, to the great jazz players of the day (1950’s-60’s).
To complement his interest in world music, Don obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Masters Degree in Economics from the University of Colorado. He taught as a Fulbright Professor of Economics at the Autonomous University in Guadalajara, Mexico, before returning to the U.S. to enter the music business full-time after joining Quincy Jones’ band for a Japan-U.S. tour in the mid 1970s.
Don was the creative sparkplug for the acclaimed Atlantic Records fusion ensembleFriendship, and from there proceeded to record and produce scores of albums over the course of the next 35 years – including 20 of his own – as well as composing for and producing Ernie Watts’ Grammy-winning Quest CD, Musican. He has had four recording homes over the years – GRP out of NYC, VideoArtsMusic in Tokyo, JVC for Japan and Asia and CareMusicGroup in Germany.
Don has recorded and played with many esteemed players over the years including Sergio Mendes, Patti Austin, Oscar Castro-Neves, Quincy Jones, Zoot Sims, Joe Pass, Dori Caymmi, Sadao Watanabe, Frank Quintero, Brenda Russell, Ernie Watts, Gerald Albright, Nelson Rangell, Paul Warburton, Jim Hall, Simone, Luizao and Artur Maia, Gilberto Gil, Flora Purim, Airto, Larry Carlton, Harvey Mason, Nathan East, Lee Ritenour, Armand Sabal-Lecco, Abe Laboriel, Alex Acuña, Marcio Montarroyos, Ivan Lins, Milton Nascimento, Paulinho Braga, Leon Ware – musical geniuses from all over the global map – who continue to accompany and inspire him on an ongoing basis.
Since 1975 Don has been intrinsically involved with the music of Brazil and Latin America, one of his great passions. He travelled to Bogota, Colombia, with Pete Escovedo’s Latin Jazz band, Azteca (including Pete’s daughter, the percussion virtuoso Shiela E.), while he was teaching Economics at Foothill College near San Francisco. That trip enabled him to listen to an amazing array of new artists, and set him on a path to play and record with many players and singers from all over Latin America.
Tocando Tierra – A Tribute to Latin American Music, was the brainchild of Don and Frank Quintero in 2000. They commissioned 36 artists from all over Latin America to record with Master Engineer Roger Nichols for this all-star grand 3-CD production that featured artists Pedro Luis e A Parede and Joyce – Brazil; Armando Manzanero – Mexico; Compay Segundo, Gema y Pavel, Lucrecia , Aramis Galindo, Mayito Rivera – Cuba; Soledad Bravo, Ilan Chester, Guaco, Aldemaro Romero, Gurrufio – Venezuela; Eva Allyon, Rony Campos – Peru; Edwin Colon Zayas – Puerto Rico; Luis Enrique – Nicaraugua; Maridalia Hernandez – Dominican Republic; Béla Fleck, Shiela E., Paquito D’Rivera and the roaring rhythm section of Don and Frank Quintero leading La Bola (the gang), which included Brazilian guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, Mexican bassist Abraham Laboriel, Peruvian drummer Alex Acuna and Peruvian guitarist Ramon Stagnaro. Unicef was a partial sponsor, and the album received a Venezuelan Grammy.
As Brazilian music resonates so much with Don, he has recorded many projects there – producing the album Vicios with Simone in 1985. His long association with Dori Caymmi on many of his albums planted seeds that are creating projects with new-on-the-scene singer-guitarists Totonho Villeroy, Luis Brasil and Renato Braz, and they are currently completing music for a CD in Rio which will include guest singers Milton Nascimento, Ivan Lins, Leila Pinheiro and Ana Carolina.
In 2006 Don received a Grammy nomination for his live contemporary jazz DVD and CD, The Hang, and received another Grammy in 2008 for his contribution to Paul Winter’s CD, Crestone. He also released a solo CD, Piano in Venice, in 2008—a collection of tunes inspired by the moods and grooves of the Venice, California beach community. In 2011, another Grammy came his way for his composition and production collaboration on another Paul Winter album, Miho – Journey to the Mountain, a work based on the primordial music and instruments of the world, captured in recording at I.M Pei’s latest architectural contribution, the Miho museum, in the mountains above Kyoto, Japan.
Don created a band for The Hang tour in Germany this past fall and had as its pre-eminent musicians guitarist Lee Ritenour, drummer Will Kennedy, and his brother, Dave Grusin. While in Munich, Don and his brother recorded their dueling Steinway pianos project at a live radio broadcast for the Bayerischer Rundfunk entitled One Night Only, scheduled for release later this year.
Having taken his Hang band to New Orleans in 2005, he was invited in 2010 by the Jazz and Heritage Foundation organizers to bring his long-time associates Abraham Laboriel, Oscar Castro-Neves, Alex Acuña, and Justo Almario back for a benefit honoring local New Orleans mentors of a children’s landscape and redevelopment organization, The Longue Vue Mission.
Most recently, Don completed a musical collaboration with Bill Sharpe of the great Shakatak band in the UK. Entitled Trans Atlántica, the CD is a musical travelogue – a collection of tracks produced and energized by two years of visiting one another’s studios from LA to the UK to Boulder, and sending ideas and files back and forth over the Internet. It features players and singers including Charlie Bisharat, Elvis du Chez, Ashley Maher, and Derek Nash. The CD was mastered by multiple Grammy-winner Roger Nichols (Steely Dan) and is also set for release late in 20ll.
Thomas Collier, percussion
Director of percussion studies at the University of Washington School of Music since 1980, associate professor Tom Collier has performed and recorded with many important classical, jazz, and popular artists, in addition to recording and performing with his own jazz group. He is a veteran of more than 50 years in music -- his first public appearance was at age five, on xylophone, and his first professional performances were made as a nine-year-old marimba virtuoso.
Collier has also established a reputation as a jazz/percussion composer, with many of his compositions for jazz percussion ensemble published by Studio 4 Productions and distributed by Alfred Music. He has won 15 consecutive ASCAP Popular Panel Awards for his jazz and percussion compositions.
Collier has recorded several educational albums for Music Minus One and Studio 4 Productions, as well as presenting more than 300 jazz concerts in public schools around Washington for the Arts in Education Program, Washington State Arts Commission. The National Association of Jazz Educators presented him with an "Outstanding Service to Jazz Education" award in 1980.
A UW alumnus, Collier graduated from the School of Music in 1971 with a BA/BM in percussion performance.
Dan Dean, bass
Dan Dean has achieved national and international recognition as a bassist, producer, composer, and as an audio and recording engineer.
He has performed with the some of the finest musicians and musical organizations of our time, including: Shelly Manne, Howard Roberts, The Great Guitars (Herb Ellis, Charlie Byrd, Barney Kessell), Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, B.B. King, Eddie Harris, Blue Mitchell and Harold Land, Buddy DeFranco, Donny Hathaway, Tom Scott, Dave Grusin, Don Grusin, Ernestine Anderson, Bill (William O.) Smith, Ernie Watts, the Seattle Symphony, Walt Wagner, Seattle Opera, Freddie Hubbard, Bill Mays, Della Reese, Emil Richards/Joe Porcaro and many others.
Dean also has been a major contributor to music education. He is the author of the widely successful Hal Leonard Series for Electric Bass Method Books 1, 2 and 3, Hal Leonard Electric Bass Studio Series Books 1, 2 and 3, Bass Trax and other related projects. He has been a member of the teaching faculties in Jazz studies and Electric Bass, of Western Washington University, Olympic College and Shoreline College. Dean received his B.A. in 1975 from the University of Washington where he majored in English Composition and Literature.