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Kind of Blue releases debut album

May 7, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University students Ashley Ickes and Gene Knific, together with other members of the award-winning jazz group Kind of Blue, will unveil their debut CD, "Ground Level," in a release concert at the Dalton Center Recital Hall.

Copies of the new disc will be available at the show, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 13. Admission is $5 at the door, but those who purchase a $10 CD will get in free of charge.

The performance will feature selections from the new album, a mixture of original music, jazz classics, and new takes on Radiohead and Pat Metheny.

Kind of Blue

The young jazz group, which began as a local team of high school all-stars, now has members that have transitioned into college. Joe Barth, saxophone, graduates from Kalamazoo Central High School this year. Darek Cobbs, drums, is a student at the Berklee College of Music. Chris Davis, bass, is at the University of Michigan, and Ashley Ickes, drums and percussion, is at WMU. Gene Knific, piano, is a junior at Portage Northern High School and is dually enrolled at WMU.

Award-winning jazz

The group's CD-release concert comes on the heels of winning a pair of Down Beat magazine awards, which were announced last week. Kind of Blue was the winner in the Blues/Pop/Rock category, and pianist Gene Knific was named best soloist in that category. Kind of Blue is one of only two area high school groups ever to win a Down Beat Award, and the first to win multiple awards. Submissions for the Down Beat competition were taken from "Ground Level."

Kind of Blue won best combo at WMU's Invitational Jazz Festival two years in a row, in 2007 and 2008. The group has appeared on "Bravo!" and Cable Access Monday Night Live, and has performed at various venues across the state.


For more information, contact Dr. Thomas Knific, director of WMU's jazz studies program, at thomas.knific@wmich.edu or (269) 387-4710.

Media contact: Kevin West, (269) 387-4678, kevin.west@wmich.edu

WMU News
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