Active: 1988 to present
When Kentucky Was Indiana (1994)
The Book of Bhu (1998)
Personnel: (biographies on the members are here ...)
Art Lande - drums, piano, melodica Dwight Killian - bass Khabu Doug Young - guitar, ukelele
Mark Miller - woodwinds Bruce Williamson - woodwinds Shane Endsley - trumpet, drums
Peter Sommer - woodwinds
The Russian Dragon Band came into being in Boulder, Colorado in 1988 with the idea of fostering creativity, composition, improvisational flexibility and interaction. The band recorded two CD's for Synergy Music, had a number of US Tours, and was featured at jazz festivals in Colorado, Texas, Utah Arizona and New York.
In recent years, it has been difficult for the full group to work together, so the band members have continued to play together in various other combinations. The appearances of the complete ensemble on February 8-10, 2008, will be a rare treat.
The Russian Dragon Band's flexibility of pulse (rushin' and draggin'), use of space and orchestral textures, and an unbridled drive, combine to bring listeners an exciting, adventurous and rich musical experience. The use of poetic and theatrical elements add to this already wide scope.
Grammy-nominated Art Lande is considered one of the premiere improvisational jazz pianists today. He began piano at age 4, studied at Williams College & moved to San Francisco in 1969. He has mostly carved out his own singular path throughout his career, taking the innovations of Bill Evans several steps further. In 1973 he recorded with Jan Garbarek and Ted Curson and in the mid-1970's had started his own jazz school. In 1976 he formed the quartet Rubisa Patrol which recorded for ECM and performed until 1983. After teaching for three years in Switzerland, Lande, in 1987 moved to Boulder, Colorado.
Art appears in many of the "Who's Who in Jazz" encyclopedias available today for his role in the development of "Chamber Jazz." He is also a noted teacher having divised innovative courses for improvisation and ear training and has lead improvisation workshops in many parts of the U.S., Canada and Europe.
I create music in a wide variety of settings and purposes. The underlying feature to any ‘Khabu’ performance is improvisation, although I have an equal affinity for composition - which I see as opposite ends of the same spectrum.
I use ukuleles and guitars (both acoustic and electric) to create a rich and colorful tapestry of sounds, moods, and atmospheres, in order to tell musical stories of journeys into the unknown. Usually the context is a concert type setting, where the art of the moment can hopefully penetrate the surface layers and offer an engaging adventure or possibly a lucid meditation on the web of existence. At other times, I’m simply plucking along with the family sing-a-long or spontaneously creating the soundtrack along with a gathering.
I’ve worked with artists from all disciplines: theater, dance, poetry (spoken word/storytelling), film, visual forms (painting, etc), as well as musicians of many styles (often with unique instrumentation). My favorite mode of play is collaborative and interactive. Teaching is no different in this regard. I play and create art with my students, regardless of level or style. And my favorite way to teach is team-teaching with my cohorts. Communal work and individual work both are necessary and vital for art to be a transformational process. This is where I find the most love and joy in art.
Dwight grew up in Kansas, the “heartland” of America. He started his musical journey by playing guitar, which led to tuba and finally to electric and acoustic bass. He graduated from Russell High School in 1981and received a Bachelor of Music degree from Wichita State University in 1986. From 1982 to 1988, Dwight was a “Kansas Jazz Artist in Residence” and a member of the “Kansas Touring Arts”. He also taught jazz bass at WSU, Bethel College, and Hutchinson Community College. In 1988 he moved to Denver CO. and free-lanced with local and national artists.
Dwight has performed with many top jazz artists such as Sheila Jordan, Art Lande, Herbie Mann, Teddy Edwards, Mark Murphy, Ernie Watts, Richie Cole, Mose Allison, Myra Melford, Jerry Hahn, Milcho Leviev, Claudio Slon, Paul McCandless, Nick Brignola, Lee Konitz, Ken Peplowski, Bob Florence, Lennie Niehaus, and Marvin Stamm. He has performed at many of the major jazz festivals in the Midwest and also at the Holland Blues Festival.
Dwight relocated to Phoenix Arizona, in November of 1998, as bassist with the Discovery Jazz Trio at The Boulders Resort in Carefree AZ for six years. He currently freelances throughout the valley doing Jazz Concerts with some of the area’s top musicians. Dwight’s festival performances while living in Arizona include: 1999 Wichita Jazz Festival, Carefree Music Festival from 2003 to 2007, and the Prescott Jazz Summit from 2003 to 2006. While in the valley he’s taught Jazz Bass at Glendale Community College, Mesa Community College, and Arizona State University from 1999 to 2006. He is currently teaching applied bass lessons and leading Music Serving the Word seminars at Southwestern College. In 2005 Dwight became Executive Director of Music Serving the Word Ministries and the bassist for The Inner Journeys Trio led by pianist Bob Ravenscroft. He also co- leads a concert series in Glendale at New Hope Covenant Church called Jazz For The Soul the 2nd Sunday of each month.
Mark Milller plays flute, saxophone and shakuhachi, the traditional bamboo flute of Japan. He has toured and recorded with Art Lande, Paul McCandless, Peter Kater, R. Carlos Nakai, David Friesen, Tuck and Patti and Nawang Khechog as well as poets Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg. With jazz pianist Art Lande he has recorded three albums of improvised duets, The Story of Ba-Ku, Prayers, Germs and Obsessions and World Without Cars, as well as two award-winning children's albums featuring Meg Ryan and Holly Hunter. With pianist Peter Kater, he has recorded seven albums including Migration, Honorable Sky and Rooftops, as well as sound tracks for television and Off-Broadway.
Mark is a member of the core faculty of Naropa University, a Buddhist inspired liberal arts college in Boulder, Colorado where he pursues an interest in meditation practice and contemplative education.
Bruce Williamson (sax, woodwinds, piano) has performed with a wide variety of jazz instrumentalists; Art Lande, Fred Hersch, Mark Isham, Gary Peacock, Benny Green, Tom Harrell, Dave Douglas, Jim Pepper, Paul McCandless, Toshiko Akiyoshi and Jack McDuff. He has also appeared with the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra, the NYC Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Manhattan New Music Project, Partita Chamber Ensemble and Spit Orchestra (Bang On a Can Festival). He has worked with director Julie Taymor and composer Elliot Goldenthal on theater projects “Juan Darien” and “The Green Bird” and the films “Titus”, “Frida” and “Across The Universe”. He was recently a featured soloist (along with clarinetist Richard Stoltzman) with the Slovakian Radio Orchestra.
Bruce has received two NEA grants for Jazz Composition. He can be heard on dozens of recordings, including his debut CD as a leader, “Big City Magic” (featuring Randy Brecker) on Timeless Records. Bruce is also on the Music Faculty at Bennington College, Vermont.
A Denver native, Shane is a CU alum (if two years of hanging out at
the rec center counts as alum) and graduate of the Eastman School
where he studied trumpet, drums/percussion and composition.
He has toured and recorded extensively with Ani DiFranco and Steve Coleman and has been doing work around NY with Josh Roseman, Dave Binney, Ravi Coltrane, Donny McCaslin, John Hollenbeck, Erin McKeown, Anna Egge and others. His most consistently working project is with Kneebody. The NY/LA based electro-acoustic quintet that has been garnering international attention during the last few years.
He is currently playing drums and trumpet in a trio with Ralph Alessi and Tim Berne and leading his own group, "Feature", and doing regular work wih Steve Coleman vocalist, Jen Shyu.
Peter Sommer, saxophonist and composer, is in demand as a performer, clinician and recording artist throughout the state of Colorado and across the nation. Since establishing himself among the Denver area’s elite jazz musicians, Peter has contributed his muscular tenor playing and creative spirit to a wide variety of musical projects ranging from mainstream bebop to avant garde and beyond. This Spring, Peter is releasing his second album as a leader, Crossroads on Capri Records, which features a two-tenor frontline with New York saxophonist Rich Perry. Peter is also featured on Terra Firma (Synergy Music) by the Ken Walker Sextet, Unfailing Kindness (Capri Records) by Chie Imaizumi, and the debut release from Ninth and Lincoln (Dazzle Records), as well as his first release as a leader, Sioux County (Tapestry Records) which features his duo with jazz piano legend Art Lande.
The Peter Sommer/Art Lande Duo has recently given concerts and clinics at Middle Tennessee State University, Portland State University, Western Oregon University, Southern Oregon University, Baylor University, the University of Colorado, and at the Jazz School in Berkeley, California. This Spring they will also perform and present clinics at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.
Peter has performed with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, and has appeared at many jazz festivals throughout the state including the Telluride Jazz Celebration, Jazz in the Sangres and the Vail Jazz Festival. Peter was featured as a guest soloist with the University of Wyoming Jazz Ensemble I as part of the North American Saxophone Alliance Region 1 Conference held in Laramie, WY. Peter has also performed at IAJE International Conferences in Anaheim and Toronto, Canada (Jan. 2008), and performed at the World Saxophone Congress in Valencia, Spain. Peter has performed in concert with Greg Gisbert, Ron Miles, Brad Goode, Bobby Shew, John McNeil, Clay Jenkins, Bobby Watson, Dave Pietro, Don Aliquo, Gary Smulyan, Paul McKee, Dale Bruning, Jim McNeely, Joanne Brackeen, Chip Stephens, John Riley, Roseanna Vitro and Ernie Andrews. He has also played for Tony Bennett and John Pizzarelli with the Colorado Symphony.
Peter Sommer is Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies and Saxophone at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins. At CSU, Mr. Sommer directs Jazz Ensemble I and the CSU Jazz Combo program, in addition to teaching courses in Jazz Improvisation and Jazz Pedagogy.