The Nash Legacy Ensemble and The Nash Future Ensemble

The Nash Legacy Ensemble
Michael Kocour, director

The Nash Future Ensemble
Eric Rasmussen, director

Last year, The Nash launched The Nash Legacy Ensemble, a program for exceptional high school music students in the Phoenix metropolitan area that promotes the art of small jazz ensemble improvisation, composition, and arranging. During the 2016-17 season, we will once again be offering the Nash Legacy Ensemble and will also be adding a second group, The Nash Future Ensemble. This ensemble is intended for slightly younger students aged 13-17 who are not yet entering their senior year of high school, allowing for the possibility of these students to participate in The Nash Legacy Ensemble in a future year.

The Director of The Nash Legacy Ensemble is Michael Kocour, and The Director of the Nash Future Ensemble is Eric Rasmussen.

Students in this program will explore essential styles and also a wide variety of strategies for composition/arranging both as individuals and through the collaborative process. A significant amount of their time will be devoted to investigating the infinite art of musical interaction in an improvisational setting. In addition, The Nash Legacy and Nash Future Ensembles will perform regularly throughout the year and produce a CD that includes original work by its members. This will be a fully funded program. There is no tuition required of the students that are invited to participate. 

Recommendations of students from area teachers and musicians are welcomed and encouraged. An open audition for both ensembles will be held on Sunday, August 28 at The Nash at 3pm. Those auditioning should be prepared to play and improvise on a blues in F (concert) and “rhythm changes” in the key of Bb (concert) with other auditioning students. 

Rehearsals for The Nash Legacy Ensemble will occur at The Nash on Mondays from 4:30-6:30pm, while rehearsals for The Nash Future Ensemble will occur at The Nash on Tuesdays from 5-7pm. 

Those who are interested in participating in this program (or educators that wish to refer students) should contact Jeff Libman at jeff.libman@thenash.org. Those selected to participate in this program will be informed by Wednesday, August 31. The first rehearsals for these ensembles will be Tuesday, September 6 at 5pm for The Nash Future Ensemble and Monday, September 12 at 4:30pm for The Nash Legacy Ensemble.

Michael Kocour is Associate Professor and Director of Jazz Studies at Arizona State University. A pianist and organist, he has performed extensively with such jazz luminaries as Benny Golson and James Moody. Kocour’s most recent release, Spiffy, reached the top 20 on the Jazz Week chart.

Eric Rasmussen is Director of Instrumental Music at Scottsdale Community College. Rasmussen, an alto saxophonist, is a Steeplechase and Fresh Sounds recording artist who has also recorded with such artists as Paul Bley, Danilo Perez, and Billy Hart. 

The participants in the Nash Legacy Ensemble for the 2015-16 school year were:

Alex Yuwen (tenor saxophone) –  junior, Hamilton High School, Chandler
Nathan Bitter (trombone) – senior, Highland High School, Gilbert
Steven Karp (piano) – sophomore, Greenway High School, Phoenix
Josh Stoffel (bass) – junior, Arizona School For the Arts, Phoenix
Sheldon Alexander (drum set) – sophomore, Desert Mountain High School, Scottsdale