Jazz master plays Iowa


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Musician, arranger, teacher, and composer Wycliffe Gordon incorporates the history of jazz along with a music style of his own. He will grace Iowa City with his presence through musical education and a performance.

The Wycliffe Gordon Quartet will be playing two sets at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday. Admission is $10 for students and youth, $20 general admission. The event is hosted by Hancher.

The musician who primarily plays jazz, mixes genres such as gospel along with funk for his band, New Funk Revolution. Gordon says he obtained his musical inspiration through a number of processes and there isn’t a single formula that can be attributed to his composition.

“I am inspired by everyday events,” Gordon said. “Sometimes I wake up, sit down at the piano, and start playing, and sometimes, I’ll play what I hear. I don’t force myself to write. I only write what I’m hearing. If I’m not hearing it, I won’t write it. I write what feels natural to me, I never try to force it.”

He said that when he was 12 years old, his older brother came home with a trombone, and he immediately wanted one. Gordon said he fell in love with the instrument shortly after and that his love for practice guided his evolving skill.

Having been involved with music for 23 years, Gordon plays in a variety of musical environments. He plays in small and large bands to make the best of every musical situation.

“I’m a musician who performs, teaches, and arranges,” Gordon said. “I am a professor, entrepreneur, and composer and am self-publishing my music. I stay pretty busy.”

Erin Donohue, the educational programming director for Hancher, has experienced Gordon through his teaching ability as he encourages students to work hard toward fulfilling their dreams. Gordon’s time at the University of Iowa, West High, and Wood, Lucas, and Twain Elementary Schools has been spent sharing his professional experience and musical knowledge with the students.

“He is a very engaging speaker whether he’s speaking with high-school or elementary students,” Donohue said. “He knows how to talk on their level. He had almost 500 high-school students at West High; they were all very engaged and responsive.”

Jazz musician and musical educator at the University of Iowa Brent Sandy had the opportunity of playing with Gordon recently at the Motley Cow, speaking highly about his character as well as his skill. 

“The thing that I noticed about Wycliffe is that he is a good human being,” Sandy said. “He is such a quality person that the music that comes through the trombone shows that love. He can replicate that kindness and soft heart through his music, and that says a lot.”

Hancher Programming Director Jacob Yarrow has experienced Gordon’s ability and says the performer’s love for the music to shine through as he connects with the audience.

“A sense of joy and creating music in the moment are two aspects that come across very strong in all of his performances,” Yarrow said. “His love of playing music and sharing it, specifically.”


Club Hancher Presents Wycliff Gordon
When: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Mill, 120 E. Burlington
Admission: $10 students and youth, $20 general public

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