Western Jazz Quartet

Photo of the Western Jazz Quartet performing on stage.Andrew Rathbun, Saxophones
Jeremy Siskind, Piano
Tom Knific, Bass
Keith Hall, Drums and Percussion

The Western Jazz Quartet is a resident faculty ensemble in the School of Music at Western Michigan University. Formed in 1974, the quartet combines performing and teaching with uncommon success as they promote jazz music and jazz education through a very active schedule of tours, concerts and workshops. Activities range from performances for school children of all ages to concerts, tours and recordings with such artists as Art Farmer, Stefon Harris, Kenny Werner, Billy Hart, Mark Murphy, Randy Brecker, Dave Liebman, Janis Siegel and Bobby McFerrin.

The Western Jazz Quartet has performed from Boston to Los Angeles, and tours regularly world wide. It has been featured at festivals in Canada, Europe and the United States, and at a week of performances at La Villa in Paris, France. The group was honored with sponsorship by the Arts America Program and often tours as artistic ambassadors for the U.S. Department of State including Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Poland, Italy, Croatia and Slovenia. The quartet has also toured Europe four times with pianist Wlodek Pawlik, drum legend Billy Hart and jazz legend Randy Brecker.

The Western Jazz Quartet has released five CDs in the United States: "Mayan Myths" (2006), "Premiere" (2005) with trumpeter Scott Cowan, "Sabine's Dance" (2000), "Blue Harts" (1995) and "Firebird" (1992) with Billy Hart. Both "Firebird" and "Blue Harts" received top reviews in DownBeat magazine, with "Firebird" being named one of the best CDs of the 1990s. The group has released several CDs in Europe with pianist Wlodek Pawlik: "Waning Moon" (2000) on Universal Mercury Records, "Turtles" (1996) with Randy Brecker on Polonia Records and "Live at the Jazz Club Aquarium" (1995) with Billy Hart on the Koch International label.

In April of 1996, the quartet was invited to tour Thailand in honor of the 50th anniversary of the king's accession to the throne. The Western Jazz Quartet has recently been appearing throughout the United States as soloists with symphony orchestras performing Patrick Williams' "An American Concerto" and other works. As members of the contemporary music ensemble, OPUS 21, the Western Jazz Quartet has premiered over a dozen new works in New York City since 2004.

Music samples

Jesse's Dilemma (MP3)
from Mayan Myths by Trent Kynaston

The Warrior Temple (MP3)
from Mayan Myths by Trent Kynaston

Siena (MP3)
from Mayan Myths by Tom Knific

Harlem River Drive (MP3)
from Mayan Myths by Trent Kynaston

Primary contact

Tom Knific

Western Jazz Quartet website