Flugelhorn player Dmitri Matheny, her­alded by the San Fran­cisco Chronicle as “one of the jazz world’s most tal­ented horn players,” per­forms tonight with The Hillcats, the Hillsdale College Faculty Jazz Ensemble.

The show will be held at 7 p.m. tonight in McNamara Rehearsal Hall at the Howard Music Hall, with free admission and no tick­eting. Hillsdale Artist in Res­i­dence Sunny Wilkinson will accompany Matheny as vocalist.

The Hillcats will be playing mostly music written by Matheny, selected from the set he cur­rently plays on  tour.

“I picked the hardest tunes, the ones that interest me the most,” Director of Jazz Studies Chris McCourry said.

Matheny has been com­pared to Miles Davis and Chet Baker, major pio­neers of the West Coast jazz style, as well as Art Farmer, who All­Music Guide described as “the bebop master who defined the sound of the flugelhorn in modern jazz.”

“West Coast players favored the blend, warm, laidback sound,” Matheny said. “A lot of trumpet players would play flugelhorn, but only now and then, on a ballad. I loved that sound so much I wanted to play it on every­thing.”

By choosing to play only the flugelhorn, Matheny has been able to realize a com­fortable, mature tone and create a unique sound for himself by exper­i­menting with subtones and lower ranges. Tonight’s show will give lis­teners Matheny’s melo­dious take on the essential sounds of West Coast jazz, along with ele­ments of blues and swing.

“The flugelhorn gets a warmer, more lyrical, melodic sound, as opposed to trumpet, which is brassy,” Matheny said.    

McCourry orig­i­nally heard of Matheny because of his dis­tinct method of impro­vi­sation from melodies, rather than the har­monic or rhythmic approaches.

“My approach is to render and phrase the melody like a singer, try to get a soulful, vocal quality, not an approach many instru­men­talists take,” Matheny said.

McCourry pre­dicted that Matheny’s melo­dious, vocalist style would make the concert very acces­sible to lis­teners.

“The music he writes is mostly blues-based, but the melodies are beau­tiful and catchy, things people will be singing on their way out,” he said.

Both Matheny and McCourry expressed excitement for tonight’s concert because of the amount of talent packed into one hall.

“It is such a thrill to work with those guys,” Matheny said. “Hillsdale College has a sur­pris­ingly great faculty there. Chris is a treasure, I dig that guy. And Sunny Wilkinson, she’s a leg­endary figure in the Midwest — someone I’ve been lis­tening to but never had the chance to meet.”

“This one is a special concert,” McCourry said. “The band is full of the finest in Michigan. It’d be a shame to miss it, since it’s free.”


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Jo Kroeker
Jo Kroeker is a junior from Fresno, California (no, it’s not Cali). She is the Opinions Editor of the Collegian, studies French and journalism, and writes for Hillsdale College’s marketing department. Her trademarks include oversized sweaters, experimental banana bread, and yoga. | twitter: @jobethkroeker