The 2007-2008 Oberlin Jazz Septet. L to R, front row: Henry Heinitsh (guitar), Tim McKay (saxophone), Chris Mees (double bass), Matt Davis (trombone), Truan Savage (trumpet). L to R, back row: Isaac Sussman (piano) Jake Robinson (drums).
Henry Heinitsh, a native of Brevard, North Carolina, is a senior at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He has been playing the guitar since the age of 10. He began the typical track of many guitarists and learned contemporary rock and pop music, then switched to playing the blues in high school. From that point forward, Henry began studying jazz. A student of Associate Professor of Jazz Guitar Robert Ferrazza, Henry gives private music lessons in Oberlin and at the Avon School of Music.
Drummer Jake Robinson grew up in Whately, Massachusetts, performing gigs in various jazz, rock, and blues ensembles starting at the age of 13. He entered numerous competitions in regional and Massachusetts state music festivals throughout high school, which helped foster his interest in jazz. Gaining a broad knowledge of drums, Jake studied with a local teacher, Keith Levreault, who was a student of Alan Dawson. Jake also studied with jazz drummers Bob Weiner and Clare Arenius, and spent time with New York City recording artist and educator Billy Ward. Now a senior at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Jake is a dedicated student who enjoys spending time with his teacher, jazz legend Billy Hart, Assistant Professor of Jazz Percussion. In the future, Jake hopes to play a range of contemporary music, including, but not limited to, the jazz idiom.
Christopher Mees, a native of Cody, Wyoming,began studying bass at the age of 19. His family moved to San Diego, where his first teachers were Robert Magnusson and Bertram Turetzky. Later, he took lessons from renowned bassist John Clayton. Chris’s musical studies in California led him to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he is now in his sophomore year studying with Peter Dominguez, Professor of Jazz Studies and Double Bass. While at Oberlin, Chris has worked and studied with former Visiting Professor Eddie Gomez, Visiting Associate Professor of Percussion Jamey Haddad, Assistant Professor of Jazz Percussion Billy Hart, and Visiting Assistant Professor of Jazz Piano Dan Wall. Chris’s experience at Oberlin has also given him the opportunity to perform in such great New York City venues as The Lenox Lounge, Sweet Rhythm, and Minton’s Playhouse. Chris is active in Cleveland’s music scene, where he has performed frequently in such clubs as The Bop Stop and Nighttown.
In the winter of 2006, Chris recorded with Theodore Croker ’07 on his debut album, The Fundamentals. He has also recorded and performed with renowned composer and bassist, Bill Lee. Chris plans to broaden his musical palette with studies in classical, Brazilian and other music idioms, and hopes to fuse the styles of jazz and world music. Chris’s other aspirations include touring, recording, and teaching.
Truan Savage was born in Chappaqua, New York. Studying piano at an early age, he took up the trumpet when he moved to Bellevue, Washington, several years later. He began studying trumpet in earnest and played euphonium in school bands, which continued into high school when he moved to London, England. While in England Truan also began to play guitar, bass, and drums in student rock and funk bands, as well as participate in the International Honor Youth Jazz Band on trumpet. In his junior year of high school Truan moved to New York City, where he became more seriously focused on jazz trumpet and electric bass. While in New York, Truan began to study with Joe Magnarelli. He also had the pleasure of playing with such artists as Steve Wilson, Lenny Pickett, Michael Wolff, and Pete Yellin. Now a fourth-year, double-degree student majoring in politics and jazz performance at Oberlin, Truan studies trumpet with Marcus Belgrave, Visiting Professor of Jazz Trumpet.
Matthew Davis was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area. He has been playing various instruments since he was nine years old. When he was 14, he started playing trombone. During his junior year of high school, he started aspiring to play jazz, and has been performing and composing ever since. In 2005, he transferred to Oberlin College from the University of California-Santa Cruz, where he studied with Wayne Solomon. He is currently a senior at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, studying trombone with Associate Professor of Jazz Trombone Robin Eubanks and Professor of Trombone James DeSano. Some of the musicians who have had a great influence on Matthew’s life have been Lee Morgan, Art Farmer, J.J. Johnson, and Ahmad Jamal.
Tim McKay is a San Francisco Bay area native who has been playing the saxophone since the fourth grade. He began private study with saxophonist Barbara Hunter and then went on to study with famed Bay area sax luminary Davis Ellis, with whom he continues to study. Tim began a serious study of the jazz idiom with the youth group, the Oaktown Jazz Workshops, under the tutelage of jazz trumpet player Khalil Shaheed and bassist Ravi Abcarian. Throughout high school, McKay was chosen to perform in many distinguished musical groups, such as the California All State Jazz Ensemble, the San Francisco Jazz High School Jazz Ensemble, and the nationally renowned Monterey Jazz Festival Next Generation Jazz Orchestra. Through these groups, Tim has had the pleasure of performing with such legends as Terence Blanchard, Branford Marsalis, and Pete Escovedo. As a junior, Tim continues his studies at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with Visiting Professor of Jazz Saxophone Gary Bartz and Teacher of Classical Saxophone Paul Cohen.
Isaac Sussman, a native of Larchmont, New York, is a second-year piano student at Oberlin College. He is majoring in philosophy while continuing to play and study jazz. From ages 13 to 18, Isaac studied piano with Jacob Sacks, Craig Taborn, Jason Moran, and others. He has performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, the Knitting Factory and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. While in high school, Isaac attended jazz workshops in New York City, most notably the School for Improvised Music, where musicians Ralph Alessi, Steve Coleman, Drew Gress, Henry Grimes, and Tony Malaby have taught. Isaac has been most influenced by pianists Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, and McCoy Tyner. Isaac studies with Visiting Assistant Professor of Jazz Piano Dan Wall.