Chris Merz, Assistant Professor, took over as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Northern Iowa in 2002. He has also taught at the University of Wyoming, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Natal in Durban, South Africa. Chris has toured four continents with Dave Brubek and other members of the Brubek family and played lead alto saxophone with several East Coast groups, including the Cecil Bridgewater Big Band. His own projects include Equilateral and the X-tet, a 12-piece big band. Chris has several compact disc recordings to his credit, including his latest effort, Mystery is My Story. About that disc, Dave Brubeck wrote, 'I am very pleased with this wonderful band. Naturally, I would admire a group like yours that, to me, is a grand extension of what we were doing...when we were the 'new thing'.' He has received commissions from university and high school jazz ensembles throughout the country and has several compositions and arrangements published by the UNC Jazz Press (Greeley,CO). Chris currently resides in Cedar Falls with his wife, Jill, and their sons Benjamin and Matthew. Dr. Robert Washut is Professor of Music at the University of Northern Iowa, where he served as Director of Jazz Studies from 1980 - 2002. An accomplished jazz composer and arranger, Washut has received numerous commissions from collegiate jazz ensembles, professional jazz artists, and symphony orchestras. Many of his works are published by the UNC Jazz Press (Greeley,CO), Walrus Music Publishing (Pismo Beach, CA), C.L. Barnhouse (Oskaloosa, IA), and Heritage JazzWorks (Lorenz Corp - Dayton, OH). During his 22 years as director of the award-winning UNI Jazz Band One, Washut recorded 11 CDs (two of which earned 5-star ratings from DownBeat magazine), toured Europe three times, consistently received 'Outstanding Band' recognition at collegiate jazz festivals throughout the Midwest, and was awarded three 'Outstanding Performance' citations in DownBeat's Annual Student Music Awards. He is in demand as a clinician and adjudicator throughout the country and is an active jazz pianist, who founded the Latin jazz band, Orquesta Alto Maiz . He recorded and released a jazz trio CD entitled Songbook ( Sea Breeze Jazz : SB-3036) in 1999. Washut was inducted into the Iowa IAJE Hall of Fame in 2003 and was selected as Outstanding Teacher at UNI in 1996.
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