By Rick Coates
One criticism college professors often receive is that they live within the protective walls of their respective institutions and dont venture into the real world to gain practical experience in their subject matter. This is not the case with bassist and composer Tom Knific who is the professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at Western Michigan University. Knific has built an international reputation for himself in the classroom and he is equally impressive on the performance stage. Jazz enthusiasts will certainly want to make their way to the Ross Stoakes Theatre within the Crooked Tree Arts Center this Saturday night for the Tom Knific Quartet.
Tom Knific may not be a household name; probably casual listeners of jazz are unfamiliar with him. But he is well respected among his academic and performing peers. It gives me great pleasure to recommend Tom Knific, not only for his superb musicianship but equally important, in my estimation, for his fine personal qualities, said musician David Brubeck. I could not recommend anyone higher.
RUNNING WITH THE GREATS
Powerful words from one of jazz musics all-time greats. Knifics musical accomplishments over a 30-year career of teaching and performing are impressive. He is president of the International Society of Bassists and is a member of the popular Western Quartet that he founded. Knific has recorded and toured with several jazz greats including Dave Brubeck, Art Farmer, John Abercrombie, Randy Brecker, Eric Marienthal, Kenny Werner, among others.
He is a founding member of Opus 21, the critically-acclaimed ensemble that crosses multiple genres. Knific, through Opus 21, is able to bring many of his musical interests together. The ensemble commissions a half dozen works every year for its series, with music ranging from jazz, pop, and world influences to contemporary classical. Annual NYC premieres, recording projects, and concerts at the Library of Congress and Carnegie Hall are part of the groups schedule and the New York Times has labeled the concept as brilliant.
A native of Ohio, Knific is a classically-trained musician who grew up appreciating jazz. He has connections to Northern Michigan as he served as the Director of Jazz Studies at Interlochen Arts Academy from 1983-87.
The Tom Knific Quartet brings together a collection of his former students, including his son John on piano, Keith Hall on drums and Chris Beckstrom on sax. For the Petoskey show they will be joined by special guest percussionist Ryan Andrews.
The quartet will perform a collection of original compositions and a few covers, along with pieces from their 2008 Lines of Influence. The CD has received positive reviews as have the quartets live performances.
Bassist, composer, and educator, Tom Knific, presents his newest band on tour and on record. The Tom Knific Quartet marks a new approach for Knific who has assembled a younger band, whose vitality, energy, and musical perspective are nothing less than explosive. The Saturday February 6 performace takes place at the Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey. For tickets and info see www.crookedtree.org or call 231-347-4337.