Lawrence University Student Jazz Trio

Each Jazz at the Trout performance is opened by the Lawrence University Student Jazz Trio as part of the LU Jazz Combos Program.

Nick Muellner is saxophonist studying at Lawrence University where he is a candidate for the Bachelor of Music degree in instrumental music education and saxophone performance. As an improviser, he has studied with Jose Encarnación, Steven Jordheim, and has played in groups directed by Mark Urness, Tim Albright, Matt Turner, Bill Carrothers, and Patty Darling among others. As part of his involvement in the Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble, the group won two Downbeat awards for best undergraduate jazz ensemble. As a classical saxophonist, Nick also plays in several regularly performing chamber groups. At Lawrence University, he has played in the Wind Ensemble, New Music Ensemble, Improvisation Group of Lawrence University, Spectre Saxophone Quartet, Saxophone Ensemble, and Symphony Orchestra.

Zoe Markle is a musician who enjoys exploring many different genres on her double bass. She is from DeKalb, IL and is currently studying music performance at Lawrence University. She has performed with Lawrence University Symphony Orchestra, Lawrence University Wind Ensemble, Cantala, Improvisational Group of Lawrence University (IGLU), Lawrence University Jazz Ensemble (LUJE), and also enjoys jazz combo playing and chamber music. In her time with LUJE they were awarded best undergraduate ensemble by Downbeat Magazine twice. Zoe also enjoys performing with various jazz combos around the area, especially the jazz series at the Neenah Public Library, currently running for a second year. In her spare time, she likes to spend time baking, enjoying the outdoors, or hanging out with her cats.

Nolan Ehlers is a percussionist whose interests range from classical percussion, to world music, jazz, and contemporary chamber music. As an orchestral musician, Nolan has performed with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra and the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra. His love of Cuban percussion has resulted in Nolan receiving a fellowship to study rumba and Batá drumming in Havana and Matanzas, Cuba. Nolan’s new music trio, Else, If Else, is currently working on a commissioning project to develop an album of pieces inspired by nature. Nolan is a student at Lawrence University, primarily studying with Dane Richeson and Jose Encarnación. At Lawrence, Nolan is the Student Director of Tambotoké, the Afro-Cuban ensemble. He also participates in Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, the New Music Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Kinkaviwo (Ghanaian drumming and dance), Sambistas, various chamber ensembles, and teaches for the Lawrence Academy of Music.

José Encarnación
Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies

José L. Encarnación leads the jazz improvisation classes, coaches jazz small groups, teaches applied jazz saxophone, and coordinates the jazz performance program at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music. He studied saxophone, flute and clarinet at the Free School of Music in San Juan, Puerto Rico, completed his Bachelor of Music degree at the Berklee College of Music in Boston where he graduated magna cum laude, and received his Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music (including the 2002 Schirmer Prize in Jazz Performance). He previously served as Assistant Professor of Jazz Saxophone at the Eastman School of Music, Instructor of Saxophone, Latin Jazz Performance Workshop, and Youth Saxology for the Eastman Community School, and as Jazz Ensemble Conductor at the Rochester (NY) School of the Arts.

He has performed jazz, salsa, and Latin music with the Bob Mintzer Big Band, the Dave Rivello Ensemble, Maria Schneider, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Roberto Rohena, Bobby Valentin, Domingo Quinones, Israel “Cachao” Lopez, Tito Puente, Danilo Perez, Dave Valentin, Giovanni Hidalgo, Batacumbele, Humberto Ramirez, and David Sanchez. His pops performances include appearances with the Temptations, Dianne Reeves, Natalie Cole, Doc Severinsen, Lou Rawls, New York Voices, Brasilia, Ann Hampton Calloway, and the symphony orchestras of Milwaukee, Rochester, and Green Bay.

About LU Jazz Combos Program

Lawrence jazz small groups/combos are “jazz performance classrooms” which engage students in a meaningful exploration of jazz improvisation. Through applied performance practice and intensive guided listening and analysis, students study and perform in classic jazz styles and build upon the jazz tradition of innovation by creating transcriptions, arrangements and compositions of their own.

Jazz small groups meet twice a week. They are coached by a faculty member once a week and have at least one un-coached weekly rehearsal. Students are placed by auditions during the first week of classes. Typically, there are 6 jazz small groups with 5-8 students per group.

Guest performers and clinicians work with the jazz small groups during their visits. Danilo Perez, Donny McCaslin, Joe Locke and John Clayton, Jr. have been recent guests.

Each small group performs a half-recital each term, presents a set at Lawrence’s annual Jazz Weekend in November and participates in weekly jam sessions at the Warch Campus Center Café. Ensembles are also encouraged to rehearse and perform on their own in campus and off-campus venues.

Jazz at the Trout is made possible by