About Us

JazzWorks, based in Cleveland, Ohio, is an all-star octet playing classic jazz and beyond.  The brain-child of former Tri-C JazzFest Artistic Director,Willard Jenkins, JazzWorks is inspired by such great jazz ensembles of the past as Art Blakey’s “Jazz Messengers” and, more recently, the San Francisco Jazz Collective.  Based in Northeast Ohio, JazzWorks serves as a laboratory for some of the most acclaimed writers, arrangers and jazz improvisers on the jazz scene.  This exciting and versatile ensemble celebrates jazz heros of the past as well as young icons of today.

Howie Smith (alto sax)
Howie Smith has presented concerts and workshops throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Europe and Australia, and has worked with musicians, composers and ensembles as varied as Anthony Braxton, Gary Burton, Dizzy Gillespie, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Elvis Presley, Pauline Oliveros, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Tone Road Ramblers.  His recorded performances are equally diverse and his catalogue of compositions includes works for conventional big bands and combos; for string, wind and percussion ensembles; for electronics; and for mixed media. Smith is a professor emeritus at Cleveland State University, where he was the coordinator of jazz studies from 1979 to 2006 and served as chair of the Art Department from 2003 to 2007.  He has received two Fulbright grants, was awarded the Cleveland Arts Prize for Music in 1985, has been the recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council on seven different occasions, and in 2012 was awarded a Creative Workforce Fellowship from Cleveland’s Community Partnership for Arts and Culture.  He has twice served as co-chair of both the Jazz Fellowships and the Music Overview panels of the National Endowment for the Arts, and has been associated with Yamaha as an artist/clinician since 1971.
Chris Anderson (trombone)
Chris Anderson is the founder of Open Tone Music, which works to make music accessible to young people. Through Open Tone Music he has reached hundreds of youth in the Cleveland and Akron area. After studying music education at Baldwin Wallace University, where he received his bachelors, he went on to get his masters degree in music from The University of Akron. In addition to being a successful music educator, Mr. Anderson composes and performs many different styles of music. He has performed trombone with some of the best in the Classical, Jazz, Gospel, Latin and other musical idioms both in the United States and abroad. Chris Anderson has also displayed success in local and national competitions. In addition to performing with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Heritage Orchestra and many others, you can also hear him featured on several CD’s. 

Jack Schantz (trumpet)
Jack Schantz was artistic director of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra from 1994 to 2009. Since 1999 he has served as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Akron. In the 1980’s Jack performed national and international tours as jazz trumpet soloist with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Artie Shaw Orchestra, and the Woody Herman Thundering Herd. After coming off the road he worked as a free-lance musician, playing in the pit orchestras for many shows at Playhouse  Square, including Miss Saigon, Showboat, City of Angles, Man of LaMancha, Annie Get Your Gun, Guys and Dolls, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Anything Goes, The Sound of Music, The Color Purple, The Drowsy Chaperone, Hair, and Porgy and Bess.  He also has performed in concerts with artists such as Mel Torme, Sarah Vaughan, Tony Bennett, Cleo Laine, Jack Jones, Nancy Wilson and Diane Schuur. He has been a member of the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, the Blossom Festival Orchestra, and the Blossom Festival Band. He led the Jack Schantz Jazz Unit in the ‘90s, and recorded  the CD Choices with that group. He has also recorded with Oscar Peterson (The Christmas Album), and the Grammy Award winning Turned To Blue with Nancy Wilson. Other recordings include The Way of the Sly Man with Dave Morgan, Come Right In with Phil Woods, Speechless and I Love To Tell The Story with his own quartet. While serving as artistic director of the CJO, he worked with arranger/composers Billy Byers, Bob Brookmeyer, Bill Finegan. Bill Holman, Slide Hampton, Gerald Wilson, Sammy Nestico, Bob Florence, Frank Foster, Maria Schnieder, and Rob McConnell.  CJO recordings under his leadership are Traditions, Swingin ’Together with Sammy Nestico, and The Surprise of Being with Joe Lovano (recorded live at Birdland in NYC).  In 2015 he was invited to perform at the International Trumpet Guild conference. In June of last year he gave concerts and masterclasses in Casablanca, Fez, Rabat, and Khouribga Morocco under the auspices of the U.S. State Department.  In November of 2015 he was invited to be the featured perfomer/lecturer at the Trumpets of The World festival in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Aidan Plank (Bass)
Aidan Plank studied the double bass with bassist and composer Dave Morgan, as well as with Kevin Switalkski of the Cleveland Orchestra. During his studies with Dave Morgan he also developed an interest in composing.
Aidan has performed in a wide range of musical genres with many musicians. Some performances and collaborations include: Dan Wall, Carol Veto, Joe Maneri, Frankie Avalon, Grease, Chubby Checker, The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, The Jazz Unit, Jack Shantz, Howie Smith, Bob Fraser, Sean Jones, Matt Perko, Bobby Selvaggio, Dominic Ferannaci, Jackie Warren, Tommy LiPuma, The Case Baroque Orchestra, The Oberlin Baroque Orchestra, The Oberlin Opera, The Houston Ballet, Andy Hunter, Kevin Jones, Kip Reed, The Cleveland Ballet, Joshua Smith, Collegium Musicum, Cynthia Kaay Bennett, Daniel Lippel, Daniel Bruce, Paul Samuels, Bobby Stevens, Debra Nagy, Mary Larew, Aurora Nealand, J. Scott Franklin, Karel Paukert, William Bolcom, Real Time Opera, Randall Woolf, The Bits, Ladia Yates, Alexis Cole, Oblique Orchestra, The Jack Cameras, Gerald Clayton, Janis Siegel, Jim Rupp, Tom Tallitsch, Joe Lovano, Judi Silvano, Carmen Castaldi, Roderick Dixon, Curtis Taylor, Nancy Kelly, Tia Brazda, Bruce Johnstone, Nia Drummond, Kenny Davis, Vanessa Rubin, John Jennings, Paul Roth, Wayne Bergeron, Jimmy Mulidore, Michael Stryker, Mike Lee, Nadav Remez, and many others.
Aidan has performed at Carnegie Hall, Severence Hall, The Knitting Factory, The House of Blues, The Beachland Ballroom, The Bop Stop, Blossom Music Festival, and other venues throughout the United States.
Theron Brown (piano)
Theron’s musical studies include the University of Akron, where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz studies in 2014, and his Master’s Degree in classical piano performance.
As an artist, the musicians that Theron has performed with have been many and varied. Theron has played with musicians such as, The Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, The Sam Blakeslee Large Ensemble, Dave Banks Big Band, The Huntertones (formerly DW6), Sean Jones, Joe Lovano, Javon Jackson, Donny McCasslin, Peter White, Walter Beasley, Christian McBride, Ken Peplowski, Gary Smulyan, Warren Wolf, Russ Nolan, Bobby Selvaggio, Dan Wilson, and more.
Theron has played at venues and events such as: The Lincoln Theater (Columbus, Ohio), Small’s Jazz Club (New York, New York), The Montreal Jazz Festival (Montreal, Canada), The Tri-C Jazz Festival (Cleveland, Ohio), The Toronto Jazz Festival (Toronto, Canada), The Blue Plum Jazz Festival (Johnson City, Tennessee), Blu Jazz Club (Akron, Ohio), Salle Wilfrid Pelletier, Place des Arts (Montreal, Canada), Sapporo Concert Hall (Sapporo, Japan), Olympus Hall Hachiouji, Tokyo Kokusai Forum Hall C, (Tokyo, Japan), Sun Plaza Hall (Sendai, Japan), Ishikawa Kenritsu Ongakudo (Kanazawa, Japan), and Izumi No Mori Hall (Urayasu, Japan). Theron enjoyed traveling and learning the culture of so many different geographical areas.
Theron came across an amazing opportunity 2012, he auditioned for and was cast as young Herbie Hancock in the soon to be released film about Miles Davis, Miles Ahead, directed by and starring Don Cheadle.  The movie will be released April 1, 2016
Theron currently resides in Akron, Ohio, where he is a professor of Jazz Piano at Kent State University and Youngstown State University, and he is immensely involved in promoting jazz and classical music.  Theron is also the founder of the Rubber City Jazz & Blues Festival.  You can see him performing at many jazz clubs and theaters in northeast Ohio.  

Reggie Jackson (drums) 
Reggie Jackson, a Columbus, Ohio, native, is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in Jazz Studies. In college, the drummer began working with recording artist Kim Pensyl. Shortly after graduation, Reggie began his 11year tenure with two time grammy winner and jazz legend Diane Schuur, as well as, a short stint with Aftermath recording artist Truth Hurts. He’s also toured with Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and 6 time grammy winner Dr John. In addition to these artists, Reggie has also preformed with Frank Foster, Benny Golson, Arturo Sandoval, Eddie Daniels, Anthony Hamilton, Terence Blanchard, Kirk Whalum, Nicholas Payton, Wycliffe Gordon, Wendell Brunious, Rodney Whitaker, Marcus Belgrave, Lew Tabackin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Chuck Loeb, Nelson Rangel and Antonio Hart.  The versatile drummer has performed on the “The Tonight Show”, played in over 25 countries, and can be heard on recordings ranging from jazz to hip-hop, gospel, classical, and R&B.

John Klayman (tenor sax)
John Klayman is one of the most in-demand tenor saxophonists in the Northeast Ohio area.  He is highly regarded as an all around woodwind player and jazz soloist.
John began his professional career playing in a summer resort band in New Jersey while attending The Ohio State University.  After college, he joined The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra under the direction of Buddy Morrow as a featured soloist.  After settling in the Cleveland area, Klayman’s reputation as an outstanding multi-reed player made him a first-call musician for pit orchestras and recording studios.  He is a charter member of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and featured tenor sax soloist with the CJO. In addition, John is a charter member of JazzWorks (formerly Tri-C JazzFest SoundWorks), an 8-piece collective of some of the best jazz musicians in N.E. Ohio.  He can also be heard leading small groups in area clubs and concerts and has appeared as a soloist/clinician at numerous area high schools and colleges.

Bob Ferrazza (guitar)
Bob Ferrazza was born in Cleveland Ohio and began studying the guitar at fifteen years of age after having developed a passion for music from listening to rock and the popular music of the time. Very shortly after picking up the guitar, Ferrazza’s interests branched out dramatically into many diverse forms of music including classical, blues, ragtime, bluegrass and others. But it wasn’t until he heard a George Benson record that Ferrazza started to concentrate his efforts on jazz, an entirely new genre to him. Inside of his first year on the guitar, Ferrazza sought out jazz guitar legend Bill deArango for lessons. DeArango had been a jazz star in the 1940s, having played with all of the greats of those days: Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Ben Webster and many others. The lessons with deArango were extremely formative for Ferrazza who went on to study music at the Cleveland State University. Other lessons followed with jazz guitar greats such as Joe Pass and Pat Martino. Having been a professional musician for over 25 years, Ferrazza has performed all over the United States and beyond, including such places as Japan, Europe and South Africa, concertizing with some of the most celebrated jazz musicians in the world, including: Donald Byrd, Joey DeFrancesco, Joe Lovano, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, J.J. Johnson, Slide Hampton, Curtis Fuller, Billy Hart, Robin Eubanks, Gary Bartz, Dan Wall, Marcus Belgrave, Clark Terry, Steve Turre, Bill Watrous, Jack McDuff, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Greg Bandy, Ernestine Anderson, Vanessa Rubin and many others. All of these musical experiences, both educational and professional, have instilled in Ferrazza the passion to pass music on to others and to teach. Bobby Ferrazza has taught at the Oberlin Conservatory since 1988, where he is currently Professor of Jazz Guitar and Director of the Jazz Division. He also taught at the Interlochen Arts Academy from 1992-1996.