A native of Toronto, Canada, saxophonist and composer Pete Mills’ discography includes 4 solo titles, with his most recent, 2014’s Sweet Shadow. The CD released on Vancouver’s Cellar Live Records has garnered critical acclaim – “A stellar recording”-JazzTimes, “Man, what a gas!”-DownBeat and a 4 ½ star rating from Dan McClenaghen at Allaboutjazz.com. The recording features drummer Matt Wilson (who is also a part of Mills’ disc Art and Architecture), his long time collaborator, guitarist Pete McCann, bassist Martin Wind and pianist Erik Augis. Mills’ 2007 release, Fresh Spin on the Summit Records label features B3 organist Tony Monaco and Pete McCann. It received enthusiastic reviews in both DownBeat (3½ Stars) and JazzTimes magazines and was on the Jazz Week top 50-radio chart for 8 weeks.
His 2004’s release on Summit, Art and Architecture (4 stars All Music Guide), features drummer Matt Wilson, bassist Dennis Irwin and Pete McCann. A top 50 Jazz Week radio release, it also received airplay on the MTV networks.
His first solo release was the critically acclaimed, Momentum (COJAZZ Records). As a sideman he appears on over a dozen CDs including those by The Columbus Jazz Orchestra, saxophonist Chad Eby, the eclectic ensemble Madrugada, guitarist Stan Smith, The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and The Paul Ferguson Jazz Orchestra.
As a soloist, Mills works throughout the U.S and Canada. In Columbus, Ohio, he performs as a featured soloist with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra (w/ Byron Stripling as Musical Director). Educated at the Eastman School of Music and the University of North Texas, Mills has received Grants from the Canada Council and was a recipient of the North Carolina Arts Council Jazz Composer’s Fellowship. In addition to his performing, Mills teaches saxophone, improvisation and directs the jazz ensemble at Denison University in Granville, Ohio.
Michael Occhipinti is a versatile, sound-scultping guitarist and composer/arranger, who has spent decades freely moving between jazz, chamber music, world music, r&b/funk, and anything involving modern guitar sounds. A nine-time JUNO Award nominee, Michael leads several acclaimed groups including The Sicilian Project, Shine On: The Universe of John Lennon, The Triodes, and the 16-piece group NOJO (Neufeld-Occhipinti Jazz Orchestra). Michael’s newest group IN ORBIT, is now booking dates for summer 2017 and features Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band) on saxophone, and Felix Pastorius on bass. Michael’s creative guitar playing has made him the ideal compliment to a diverse range of groups, including modern jazz singer Elizabeth Shepherd, Indian fusion group Avataar, classical ensemble Group of 27, Psychedelic Turkish group Minor Empire, pop and soul singer Lester McLean, improvising electronic group Junik, and chamber group The Gryphon Trio. He’s as happy playing clean rhythm guitar with his funk band Grooveyard as he is creating stunning ambient sounds behind vocalists such as Italy’s Pilar. The range of Michael’s musical experience is best illustrated in the many celebrated musicians Michael has performed with, including Tony Allen, Andrea Bocelli, The Cecilia String Quartet, Divine Brown, Don Byron, Bruce Cockburn, Jeff Coffin, Joe Lovano, The Toronto Symphony, Dominic Mancuso, Laila Biali, Ray Anderson, Dave Douglas, Michelle Willis, Sam Rivers, and Kenny Wheeler. Michael Occhipinti’s touring resume includes The Umbria Jazz Festival (Italy), the Festival Cultural de Zacatecas (Mexico), the Jazz Yatra (India), The Ubuntu Project (Netherlands), Musikfest (USA), and the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival (Canada).
Michael’s own projects explore everything from Sicilian culture to songwriters such as John Lennon and Bruce Cockburn, to instrumental New Orleans funk, to adventurous original music and big band arrangements of Pink Floyd. Michael has been commissioned to compose music for the Royal Conservatory of Music’s 21C Festival of new music (featuring The Gryphon Trio and Don Byron), for bassoonist Nadina Mackie-Jackson and trumpeter Guy Few and the Group of 27’s JUNO Nominated Canadian Concerto Vol. 1, and for the newest album by Quartetto Gelato 100% Canadian. Michael appears on the debut album by multi-instrumetalist Louis Simao, and is writing new arrangements for singer Yvette Tollar’s upcoming tribute to Joni Mitchell. A respected instructor, Michael teaches at Humber College, Centennial College, and The Royal Conservatory of Music, and often adds clinics to his touring schedule.
$15 ($10 student w/ ID at door)
|BLU Jazz+ was named one of the "Best Jazz Venues in the World" by DownBeat Magazine (2016, 2017, 2018)|
|Committed to the preservation of America's treasured art form of jazz, BLU Jazz+ Masterclass Foundation (BJMF) is a new program developed by the founders of BLU Jazz+ Akron that brings “front-row” jazz education performance & mentorship opportunities to student musicians and art lovers alike through an ongoing series of special events throughout the year.|