The Lunar Glee Club The Lunar Glee Club





The Lunar Glee Club

30th Anniversary Performance

  • $30 Assigned Rows 1-2
  • $20 Assigned Rows 3-5
  • $15 General Admission
  • $5 Student
  • Steve Hiltner, saxophone
  • Paul Vornhagen, saxophone
  • Kalle Nemvalts, trumpet
  • Sam Clark, guitar
  • Dan Ladizinsky, bass
  • Dan Bilich, bass
  • Jon Krosnick, drums
  • Aron Kaufman, congas and percussion

Event Details

On July 27, 2014, a historic event will unfold at the Kerrytown Concert House: the 30th anniversary reunion performance of the Lunar Glee Club (also known as the Lunar Octet), an exciting and innovative no-vocals musical ensemble that was born in Ann Arbor three decades ago and is reuniting this summer to bring their still-fresh brand of Afro-Latin jazz alive, for the first time, at Kerrytown.

This concert is supported by the Don Chisholm Friends of Jazz at KCH.

The Lunar Glee Club

The award-winning Lunar Glee Club plays highly original and eclectic music drawing on jazz, Cuban and Puerto Rican salsa, rock, African high-life music, and Brazilian sambas, to forge a vital new sound enriched by these traditions. The band's original music is exciting, dynamic, and powerful, including fiery Latin grooves, driving funk rhythms, swinging bop tunes, and romantic ballads.

Since its debut in February 1984, the band carried its high-energy message to dancers and listeners, jazz, r&b, and rock fans alike. Over the years, the band expanded its following among area audiences by performing in numerous club and concert settings, including the Flint Jazz Festival, and the Montreux-Detroit Jazz Festival (in 1985, 1986, 1987, 1990, and 1991), the Columbus Arts Festival, the Lancaster Festival, the Ann Arbor Art Fair, the WEMU/Depot Town Winter Jazz Series, Rusty's Jazz Cafe, Top of the Park, the Bird of Paradise, the Del Rio, Mr. Flood's Party, the Blind Pig, the Detroit Festival of the Arts, Detroit's New Center Park, Toledo's CityFest and Rib-Off, the Ann Arbor Art Fair (every year beginning in 1985), and many other settings as well.

The group won the WEMU-Depot Town Jazz Competition (Ypsilanti, Michigan) in 1985 and performed numerous live simulcasts on Michigan radio stations, including WCBN, WEMU, and WDET. Its live performances were featured twice on WEMU's program "City Scene". In addition, Lunar Octet was the opening act on National Public Radio's national broadcast of the Miller Lite Montreux Detroit Jazz Festival on August 31, 1991.

The band also appeared live on television on Channel 7 WXYZ's show "Good Afternoon, Detroit', on Comcast Cable's "Live from Industry" series, and on Barden Cablevision's "Live from Montreux-Detroit" program.

The band released released four albums of their music, including "Highway Fun" on the Ann Arbor-based Schoolkids Records, in addition to "Lunar Glee Club", "Moonburn", and "Live at the Ark."  One song from the band's performance at the Michigan Union was featured on the compilation album called "Cruisin' Ann Arbor II".

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Steve Hiltner

During his high school and college years in Ann Arbor, Steve Hiltner began playing jazz. His interest in music actually germinated when he grew up in Wisconsin, where his mother and older sister played piano at home. “I’m the only one in my family who didn’t take piano lessons, but now I’m the only one who plays,” he says. “But we always had music around the house. My father really loved opera. He couldn’t carry a tune — he was tone-deaf when he tried to sing — but he was just enthralled by the opera.”

The family was also very interested in folk music. When Hiltner was in fifth grade, he began playing clarinet in the student ensemble. By the time he was a senior in high school in Ann Arbor, he took up tenor sax. Hiltner also had been turned on to jazz by his older brother. “He had given me a Modern Jazz Quartet album and also had turned me on to Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme.’”

But while some musicians credit their teachers with sparking a lifetime interest in music, Hiltner’s band teacher, unfortunately, had the opposite effect. “There was sort of a harsh ethic among band directors then,” says Hiltner. “They thought they had to really drive kids strongly and say certain things, kind of cutting remarks. So when I graduated from high school I didn’t want to read any more music. I just wanted to play.”

He taught himself jazz via clarinet and tenor, just figuring out how to get from one chord and note to another. “It was really like an outpouring of the heart. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just trying to play what I was hearing.”

Hiltner did gigs in Ann Arbor for most of the two decades after graduating. After a stint in North Carolina, Hiltner moved to Princeton, where he began composing again and created Sustainable Jazz ( The trio, composed of Hiltner, pianist Phil Orr initially and later Ron Connor, and bassist Jerry D’Anna, has been working steadily since.

Paul Vornhagen

Winner of Six Detroit Music Awards, sax/flutist/vocalist Paul began playing the flute at the age of 22 in Ann Arbor Michigan. Self-taught for the first 5 years of his study he then enrolled at City College of San Francisco for one year where he took courses in music theory, woodwinds, piano and played sax and flute in the Big Band. Returning to Michigan, Paul then played with jazz and R & B groups throughout the Detroit Metro area including the exciting ensemble, The Lunar Glee Club and Domino. He also formed his own quartet. Appearances at Jazz Festivals and nightclubs furthered his career which resulted in several Detroit Music Awards. He continues to return to San Francisco where he became a regular headliner at the famous club, Jazz at Pearls and other jazz hotspots. Since 1991 he has recorded over seven of his own jazz Cds to critical acclaim as well as forming the award winning cuban jazz band, Tumbao Bravo with conguero Alberto Nacif, that has recorded four Cds and has won three Detroit Music Awards. He also recorded three critically acclaimed new age albums in the late 1980s with guitarist Paul Sihon. All of his recordings have been featured on nationally syndicated public radio stations including the #1 Show, “Jazz After Hours.” This April 2014, Paul releases his 8th jazz recording, entitled “In Our Own Way” with pianist Gary Schunk, bassist Kurt Krahnke and drummer Randy Marsh. Paul continues to tour the Midwest and west coasts with his Trio/Quartet and Tumbao Bravo. Some of his performing credits include Detroit, Michigan, Birmingham, Lansing, River Raisin, Berkeley, CA and Ann Arbor Jazz Festivals. Also Orchestra Hall, Pine Knob, Hill Auditorium and Chicago jazz clubs. He has shared the stage with the Temptations, Four Tops, Charles Earland, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Mark Levine, Marcus Belgrave and Abbey Lincoln. Visit the website

Kalle Nemvalts

Kalle Nemvalts was active in the Ann Arbor-Detroit music scene in the late 1970s and early 1980s, playing trumpet in Marcus Belgrave's workshop big band the New Detroit Jazz Ensemble, the II-V-I Orchestra, Destroy All Monsters, the Urbations, Rick Hollander's RH Factor (years before Roy Hargrove used the same name for his groups), the Lunar Glee Club, and many other groups. He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and performs with various jazz and latin groups.

Dan Ladizinsky

Dan Ladizinsky was one of the two bass players in the original Lunar Glee Club from 1983-1984. He had the original idea about how the band might be configured, with two basses, a non-chordal guitar, 3 drummers and 3 horns. The idea was to separate the sonic space and leave horns high, drums midrange, basses low, and a rhythmic guitar to traverse the range. In the USA in the 80's, there was very dense midrange chordal sound in much of the popular music from instruments such as the Yamaha DX7 and overdriven guitars. This was in contrast to sounds from Africa or Latin America, where cleaner instrumental sound that emphasized rhythm first could be played by large multiinstrumental bands, yet still not sound too busy. The band's early writing was very much a group process, with a central rhythm idea and melodic motif that could then be expanded upon. The drums would work out their polyphony, the horns their harmonic approach, the basses in harmony or contrapuntal and in tonal contrast, and the guitar straddling the rhythmic and melodic. And so the structure was developed, with solos and breaks added thereafter. It was super fun! Great people and music!!

Dan Bilich

Not a champion of resume building, Daniel Bilich is a bit of a musical lightning rod. Where he goes, music follows - or, maybe, where music goes, he follows. Either way, the lightning strikes and things go BOOM.

Nowadays, Dan is mostly consumed with theatre music. In recent years, his work has been heard from time to time on the stage of the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, Michigan. Currently, he is up to his eyeballs composing an original musical theatre piece with a pirate radio theme.

In 2010, Dan bought a vintage Bb sousaphone. Still waiting for the lightning to strike, soon it will be time to try a thunderstorm on a golf course.

Jon Krosnick

Jon Krosnick began playing piano at age 6 and drums at age 9. The bulk of his formal musical training took place during ten summers spent at the National Music Camp in Interlochen, MI. There, he studied classical percussion and jazz drumming, and he performed with orchestras, concert bands, percussion ensembles, jazz bands, and back-up bands for musical theater performances. Recognizing his accomplishments during those years, Jon was awarded the NMC Jazz Scholarship, and he won the High School Division's Concerto Competition. At Interlochen, Jon studied classical percussion with many noted instructors, including Niel DePonte (Oregon Symphony) and Scott Stevens (Metropolitan Opera Orchestra). While studying classical percussion with Fred Hinger (Metropolitan Opera Orchestra) while in high school, Jon won the Philadelphia Orchestra's Student Concerto Competition and performed with the orchestra.

While in college at Harvard, Jon played with the Harvard Orchestra and the Bach Society Orchestra, and he was the percussion section leader of the M.I.T. Symphony Orchestra. He traveled with the Harvard Orchestra to Germany to perform in the Herbert von Karajan Orchestra Competition. With the M.I.T. Symphony, he toured the east coast and performed on their recordings of contemporary classical works.

Also during his high school and college years, Jon led a parallel career as a jazz drummer. He studied with Dixieland expert Hy Frank, as well as with Peter Erskine, one of the most celebrated drummers on the contemporary international jazz scene. He performed in small jazz groups, as well as with the Harvard Jazz Ensemble, Bob Hope, and Doc Severinson.

During his graduate school years in Ann Arbor, MI, Jon played with the University of Michigan Jazz Ensemble, as well as small pop, rock, and jazz ensembles. Most notable has been his ten-year membership in the Lunar Octet, an award-winning Latin/jazz ensemble that has appeared on numerous TV and radio broadcasts, and has released four recordings.

Among the players in the Lunar Octet was a young Craig Taborn, now a celebrated leader in the jazz piano world. Jon also led the Jon Krosnick Quintet, that featured Ron Brooks (who played bass with Bob James), Bill Lucas (now in the trumpet section of the Detroit Symphony), Ned Mann (former bassist with Michel Camilo, Tania Maria, and many others), and David Mann (who has since performed with Tower of Power, James Taylor, and Paul Simon).

While in Columbus, Ohio, Jon freelanced with a number of groups and appeared regularly with pianist Geoff Tyus, saxophonist Flip Jackson's Variations, and the jazz-fusion group State of Mind. His playing is also featured on the 1993 CD release by Columbus pianist Bradley Sowash, Out West.

Jon's playing in Charged Particles reflects his primary influences on the drums: Peter Erskine, Dave Weckl, and Steve Gadd. His drumming style blends incredible technique (developed through his classical training) and a sensitivity to his fellow players with an explosive energy that propels the trio to electrifying velocities. The mixing of Murray's and Jason's harmonic and melodic talents with Jon's rhythmic vitality sparks many exciting moments during an evening with Charged Particles.

In addition to his accelerating performing schedule with Charged Particles, Jon performed with Chick Corea and John Patitucci in Lenox, Massachusetts, in late 2012.

Aron Kaufman

Aron Kaufman is a nationally honored educator, multi-percussionist and composer. A Native New Yorker, Mr. Kaufman came to the University of Michigan in 1977 and began exploring his interest in percussion as an African dance accompanist at the University of Michigan, working with Detroit master drummer Modibo Keita, Francisco Mora and Congolese choreographer Biza Sompa. Mr. Kaufman studied Afro-Cuban drumming with Norman Shobey, Adam Rudolph, Pepe Espinosa and Chembo Corniel, frame drumming with Layne Redmond and Glen Velez and traps with Sean Dobbins. He has performed with folk legend Pete Seeger, trumpet icons Louis Smith and Ted Curson, saxophonist Rick Margitza, Detroit jazz luminaries Eddie Russ and Larry Nozero, pianist Craig Taborn, electric harpist Deborah Henson-Conant, harmonica virtuoso Madcat Ruth, and Lebanese Oudist Karim Abdul Bader. Mr. Kaufman has performed with numerous ensembles, including the rock band Quick City, the fusion group Pangaea, folk-pop quintet Montage, the Lunar Glee Club and the Lunar Octet. Mr. Kaufman leads multi-cultural workshops incorporating music and movement for infants – five-year-old children as one of the presenters of the Dancing Babies program through the Ann Arbor Public Library. He has a wealth of experience in conducting hands on drumming workshops for both children and adults in schools, area libraries and summer camps. Aron currently performs with the children’s folk duo Gemini and leads his own band, the Special K trio.

Aron studied music composition and ear training with Professor Jane Heirich at the University of Michigan and was inspired by her to write, arrange, and perform his own musical pieces. His work draws on elements of jazz, calypso, samba and Middle Eastern influences, often featuring a strong rhythmic foundation while juxtaposing evocative lines melodically. Mr. Kaufman's tunes Subway Tension, Norms Nambo and Theme for the Gardian Angels were received enthusiastically at venues throughout Southeastern Michigan including the Montreux-Detroit and Flint Jazz Festivals. Subway Tension received radio airplay on WDET, WEMU-Ypsilanti, MI and WCBN-Ann Arbor, MI and was featured on "Good Afternoon Detroit"-Channel 2 T.V. His composition Heart of Congatar was selected by WGVU as part of a compilation of Michigan Jazz artists on the CD The Best of WGVU Jazz night. Mr. Kaufman was invited to contribute to the soundtrack of the feature film, The Pin, which was released nationally and received critical acclaim in the New York Times. He performed an instrumental version of the nigun (sacred melody) he recorded for the movie soundtrack live at the Michigan Theatre with his Special K Trio.