Indiana State University Newsroom

Spicknall group to perform ‘Billy Strayhorn Jazz Classics’ Oct. 6

October 2, 2019

John Spicknall's Jazz Piano Trio adds saxophonist Sam Fagaly to the band to perform "Billy Strayhorn Jazz Classics" at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6 in Boyce Recital Hall of the Landini Center for Fine and Performing Arts.

The trio consists of pianist John Spicknall, bassist Jesse Wittman and drummer Kevin Johnson. These musicians began working on arrangements of "Great American Song Book" repertory and jazz standards more than 20 years ago that continues to grow and develop. The band has often appeared backing up guest musicians at ISU, including performances with Bobby Shew, Jim Ketch and Jim Perry.

The program is free and open to the public.

Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967) was an American jazz composer, pianist, lyricist and arranger, best remembered for his long-time collaboration with Duke Ellington that lasted nearly three decades. Originally hired as lyricist by Ellington, his duties quickly expanded as arranger, composer and collaborator/advisor with Duke. Ellington would joke onstage, "Strayhorn does a lot of the work but I get to take the bows!" Strayhorn wrote the band's most famous theme song, "Take the A Train."

Joe Deal is a jazz bass player living and playing in the Indianapolis area over the 
past 25 years. He has performed with jazz legends Lionel Hampton, Jimmy Heath, Ira
 Sullivan, Bobby Shew, Pat LaBarbera, Phil Wilson, Mike Metheny, Art Blakey pianists James Williams and Geoff Keezer, comedian Rich Little and Spyro Gyra member Dave Samuels. CDs include: The Joe Deal Jazz Trio "Moods," "Red Green and Blues" by Ron Enyard and "I'll Never Stop Loving You" by Harry Miedema with Deep 6.

Drummer Kevin Johnson grew up in a musical family where his father was the eminent jazz trombonist, J.J. Johnson. Kevin has played with and recorded with many jazz luminaries and now resides in Indianapolis.

Pianist John Spicknall retired from Indiana State University School of Music in 2007 where he was involved in woodwind, music education and jazz instruction for 38 years, but continues to teach jazz piano in an adjunct position. He also was visiting professor of jazz piano at DePauw University, 2006-2012. In 2012, he retired from the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra after more than 40 years of service. He has been the house pianist at Stables Restaurant for the past 17 years.