Rob Ryndak and Tom Lockwood CD Release for “Gratitude”

June 8, 2019 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
PianoForte Studios
1335 South Michigan Ave
Chicago IL 60605

Rob Ryndak and Tom Lockwood present a CD Release concert for their new album “Gratitude” released with Pacific Coast Jazz.

A reception will follow the show.

Rob Ryndak, piano and percussion
Tom Lockwood, woodwinds
Sam Hankins, trumpet
Sasha Brusin, guitar
Karl E.H. Seigfried, bass
Jeff Moehle, drums
Nathan Rodriguez, percussion
Micah Rutschman, vibraphone
Steve Talaga, piano

Gratitude is a colorful mosaic of cultural sounds and world rhythms ─ the perfect blend of jazz, swing, pop, and a splash of funk. Rob Ryndak and Tom Lockwood have brought more than their extraordinary musical talents to bear; they have put their hearts and souls into the collaboration. About the title, Ryndak says, “Life is about dealing with joys and sorrows, the ups and downs. Too often, we don’t appreciate our lives, especially during difficult times. We need to understand that it’s all about learning and growing, approaching things with a positive attitude, the glass-is-half-full mindset. Tom and I both understand that we have everything to be thankful for in our lives. Gratitude is the perfect expression of those sentiments.”

To bring their vision to life, Ryndak and Lockwood assembled an incredibly talented crew of musicians. The versatile guitar work of Sasha Brusin and Karl Seigfried is second to none, and Steve Talaga reminds us what a true jazz pianist sounds like as he skitters across the keyboard in several of Lockwood’s creations. The album is further bolstered by its diversity, unique arrangements by Harold Mims and Max Steinberg, and a haunting cello sound by Ryan Koranda. Micah Rutschman is stellar on Vibraphone, and Jeff Moehle (drum set) and Victor Gonzalez, Jr. (congas) round out the cast by laying down a solid backbone of rhythms.

Gratitude speaks to the listener on so many different levels, evoking a wide range of imagery and emotions: a stroll along a Punta Cana beach, the noir of a sultry Chicago jazz club, or simply a backdrop for solitary reflection. You need only close your eyes and open your mind. The music will take you there!

Tom Lockwood

After starting on clarinet in the fifth grade, Tom studied sax, flute and bass, and also arranged for and directed his high school’s jazz, pep, and show bands. He began to play bass in working bands while in high school as well. He also attended Stan Kenton and Jamey Aebersold summer music camps. After high school, he attended the Berklee College of music in Boston, where he studied with Bob Mover and Mike Metheny. He later went to Western Michigan University, studying with Trent Kynaston and Ramon Zupko, and earning a B.M. in Jazz Studies, and a M.M in Woodwind Performance. At this time, he began working with some of the best jazz musicians in the Midwest, and performing in concerts and shows with everyone from David Liebman to Engelbert Humperdink, and was a contributor to DownBeat Magazine. He worked as a musician on a number of cruise ships and then settled in Grand Rapids, MI, where he became an in-demand jazz bassist and woodwind doubler, performing in pit orchestras as well as jazz and contemporary music groups. He also became a college instructor in music, at Hillsdale College, Grand Valley State University, Cornerstone University, and Aquinas College, and currently teaches at Hope College, Grand Rapids Community College and Kellogg Community College. He is a clinician and adjudicator for high school jazz band and festivals, and has taught at Birch Creek (WI) Music Center, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, and the Aquinas College Jazz Camp. The main groups he performs with now are Grupo Aye, The Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra, Evidence/Michael Doyle, The John Shea Trio, the Steve Talaga Trio, and Mind’s Eye, a group he co-leads with Talaga and Rob Smith. Mind’s Eye performed at the Detroit Jazz Festival 2018 with Keith Hall on drums.

Some of the musicians and groups Lockwood has worked with:

Marcus Belgrave, Andre Bush, Jenna Mammina, Dr. Paul Brewer, Trent Kynaston, Steve Zegree, Bob Ricci, Bruce Early, Paul Keller, Pete Siers, Randy Gelispie, Paul Vornhagen, John Shea, Bill Dowdy, Betty Joplin, Jim Cooper, Eddie Russ, Terry Lower, John Shea, Dick Reynolds, Sunny Wilkinson, Ramona Collins, Susan Chastain, Kathy Kokins, Claudia Schmidt, Steve Sandner, Peter Yellin, Freida Lee, Jennifer Holiday, Harvey Thompson, Ken Morgan, Randy Marsh, Quincy Davis, Keith Hall, Shawn Wallace, Paul Finkbeiner, Gerald Cleaver, Cary Kocher, Doug Horn, Tony Viviano, Jeff Kressler, Rick Roe, Larry Nozero, Jeff Haas, Ron Getz, Eddie Calhoun, Dave Hay, Wycliffe Gordon.

At clinics and informal settings with Robin Eubanks, Bobby Watson, David Liebman, Richie Beirach, Terry Gibbs, Rick Margitza,  Jerry Gonzalez, Steve Wiest, Mike Vax, Roland Hanna, Frank Mantooth, Jon Faddis, John MacNeil, Adam Nussbaum, Kirk McDonald, Frank Tiberi, Robin Eubanks, et. al. For WGVU-FM Jazz Night in Grand Rapids: Greg Abate, Danny Heines, Jimmy Bruno/Jack Wilkins Quintet, Mark Elf, Christian Howes and Daniel Kelly.

Kalamazoo (MI) Big Band, Grand Rapids (MI) Jazz Orchestra, Paul Keller Orchestra (Ann Arbor, MI), Bird Of Paradise Orchestra (Ann Arbor, MI), Tim Collins Big Band (Battle Creek, MI), Bruce Early Big Band, The Night Band (Grand Rapids, MI), 45th Parallel Big Band (Traverse City, MI), Russ Morgan Orchestra, Tony Barron Orchestra;

Cab Calloway, Temptations, Four Tops, Natalie Cole, Bernadette Peters, Johnny Mathis, Engelbert Humperdinck, Milton Berle, Red Skelton, Rich Little, Nelson Riddle Orchestra;

Grand Rapids Symphony, Grand Rapids Ballet, West Shore (Muskegon, MI) Symphony Orchestra, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Cadillac (MI) Area Symphony Orchestra, AFM Local 228 Concert Band (Kalamazoo, MI), AFM Local 56 Concert Band;

and in theatre orchestras, including those of the Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids Civic Theaters, Heritage Theater (Grand Rapids), Michigan Ensemble Theater (Traverse City, MI), Barn Theatre (Augusta, MI); and in pit orchestras for many touring Broadway productions.

As a high school student, Lockwood attended Stan Kenton and Jamey Aebersold jazz clinics, and music camps at Ferris State University (Big Rapids, MI) and the National Music Camp at Interlochen (MI).

At Western Michigan U.: Gold Company, Symphonic Bands, Symphony Orchestra; Jazz Orchestra/Jazz Lab Band, as performer or director, with concerts at the Montreux (Switzerland) International, Montreux/Detroit, Notre Dame, and Elmhurst (IL) College Jazz Festivals; with jazz artists Dave Liebman, Red Rodney, Richie Beirach, Lew Tabackin, Peter Erskine, Clare Fischer, et. al.

Rob Ryndak

Jazz composer, performer and teacher, Rob Ryndak has a passion for music.  In his compositions he combines pop, jazz and Latin rhythms to create melodic accessible tunes. While Rob is a pianist, he draws from his percussion roots and infuses a strong baseline of rhythms within his composition and still likes to get out from behind his piano to play congas. His inspiration comes from Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis, Poncho Sanchez, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Miriam Makeba, Bob Marley, Joe Sample, Horace Silver as well as genres ranging from classical to R&B and rock.

He used this mix of genres to create four recordings of original music. These albums include a variety of musical styles and have simplicity and lyrical melodies that are accessible to audiences. He includes strong percussion and turns to flute, trumpet and sax regularly.  His goal is to create music that leads to heart felt improvisation and forces the musicians to rely on their gut instinct more than habits.

In 1996 he was signed with Southport, an independent Chicago jazz label where he released his first three CDs.

Rob feels that every recording has something unique and special about it.   His first album, Moving Forward has raw energy. He continues to draw on these tunes in performances because of their innocence and fun.

Rob’s second album, Boundless (released in 2000) owed a great deal to working with a tight band. They worked closely together playing out regularly together and the CD grew from this connection. They added an international touch to the recording with the addition of trombonist, Vince Benedetti.

Stay With It, Rob’s third album with the Southport Label included high profile musicians including Steve Cole on sax and Richard Patterson on bass. Rob veered clearly into Smooth Jazz territory on a number of the tunes and worked with an arranger (Gary Norian) for the first time for this CD.

In 2005, Rob signed with the Pacific Coast Jazz label. The release, A Reason to Smile debuted in September of 2006. He pulled from his percussion roots and included Latin and African rhythms. The Album received great critical reviews. Reviews on All About Jazz said the tunes on this CD were “. . . .  light and upbeat, the songs have an uncluttered feel to them, and there is enough variety between each composition to keep the interest of any listener for numerous helpings.” Rob’s 5th CD, A Wonderful Thing, released in 2013 climbed to 38 on the JazzWeek chart.  He has collaborated with saxophonist, Tom Lockwood on a new release for June of 2019, featuring Grammy Award Winner, Brian Lynch on trumpet.

Rob has recorded and played with a long list of Chicago greats including, Steve Cole, Ruben Alvarez, Carlos Cornier, Paulinho Garcia, Greg Fishman, Larry Gray, Bobby Lewis, Richard Patterson and Paul Wertico.

Robs music is autobiographical. He incorporates a great deal of what is going on in his head and heart in the music.   Some of his inspiration was found in places including Sedona Arizona where he wrote “Creek Haven Blues” and “Bell Rock”.  His travels to Costa Rica is the source for “Ojos Café Hermosos”. He also draws from relationships. The tunes “Clare’s Arrival” and “Lea’s Joy” are dedicated to his daughters and “Jade” and “Jadey” are named for his wife. Moreover, Rob’s recent journey to the Dominican Republic has spawned inspiration to compose music with a Bachata feel.

Rob started his career in music in high school were he played drums in a rock band. From there he studied seriously in college culminating with a Masters in Music from Northwestern University.  He has learned from a host of talented teachers including Mike Mc Clead, Hal Russell, Jake Jerger, Alan Swain, Kent Wehman, Bob Bullard and Don Owens. They have influenced his compositions, performing and his teaching.

Rob’s ensemble has regularly performed at such festivals throughout the Midwest such as Munster Indiana Jazz & Blues Festival, Nebraska’s Joslyn Museum’s Jazz on the Green, Chicago’s Music on Michigan Ave. Series and Milwaukee’s Jazz in the Park Series. Rob was featured as opening act for Steve Cole at Milwaukee’s Third Ward Jazz Festival.  

In addition to composing and performing, Rob has taught music both privately and at a college level. Rob is currently located in the Chicago area with his wife and daughters.

Sam Hankins

Sam Hankins had the great fortune to be born into a musical family that would help cultivate his own talent and ambitions. Encouraged by his father, Samuel Hankins Sr., young “Hank”” began with the guitar, then switched to his trademark trumpet in middle school and began playing in churches, professional bands and orchestras. Hankins remembers clearly being one of only 5 African American kids being bussed to the predominantly white Harmony Elementary School in Oklahoma City, which he attended with his younger brother.

Music was a safe haven for Hankins who had difficulty concentrating in school and remembers clearly one of the teachers telling him that “he would never amount to anything”. However, he was determined to prove her wrong and went on to earn his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He then joined the air force jazz band, The Pacesetters, stationed at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois as a trumpeter, where he remained until the Air Force Base closed in 1991.

Hankins then returned to school, earning both a second Bachelors Degree and a Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It was while studying for his Masters degree that he found out he was dyslexic after being tested by his college professor.

During his tenure as Band Director at the Edison Middle School in Champaign, Hankins won numerous teaching awards when he led a struggling band program to Division I ratings, State and National awards and recognitions. In 1997, he won the Golden Apple Award recognizing commitment to excellence in education & in 1998 received the White House Letter recognizing the Edison Middle School Band Program, sign by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Before becoming a solo artist Hankins performed with numerous legendary artists, including Al Jarreau, Clark Terry, The O’Jays, The Temptations, The Dells, The Impressions, Aretha Franklin and the Glenn Miller Big Band.

A prolific composer, Hankins had composed over 150 pieces before he took his wife’s advice and began pursuing the next phase of his diverse career, as a solo recording artist. He laid the groundwork for Nothing Between Us (May 2012) by releasing Dream Catcher (July 2011), a compilation of his catalog of music in every genre from smooth jazz and dance to techno. He released his third CD, Joyous Celebration, a Christmas CD which is a collaboration with David McLorren in November 2015. His latest CD, Do That Thang was released in March 2016.

All 4 CD’s have received lots of radio play in the US & around the world and have won over 25 independent music awards.

Hankins is currently the Band Director at Rich East High School in Park Forest, a Chicago suburb, as well as an Adjunct Music Professor at South Suburban College where he is the Director and Conductor of the Jazz Combo and Jazz Ensemble.

On April 23rd, 2017, Hankins won 9 independent artist awards at the Indie Music Channel Awards (IMC) ceremony in Hollywood. Thousands of independent musicians from all over the world (Australia, Europe, UK, Canada & Nigeria, to name a few) submit their music in the different genres to be judged by music industry professionals (well known producers, managers, radio DJs, songwriters, etc). The list of nominees is released in March and the awards show is held in April in West Hollywood every year. This year it was held at the famous Troubadour, which has seen performers such as Miles Davis, Elton John & Bob Dylan, amongst others.

Hankins awards included the following:

  1. Best Instrumental Demo for “El Matador”
  2. Best Live Jazz Performance for “So What”
  3. Best Male R & B Artist for “Reach For Me”
  4. Best Soundtrack Song for “Land Of Freedom”
  5. Best Soundtrack Recording for “El Matador”
  6. Best World Music Artist for “Balli For My Galli”
  7. Best World Music Recording for Balli For My Galli”
  8. Recording Of The Year for “El Matador”
  9. Demo Of The Year for “El Matador”

For more information on this very talented artist or private trumpet lessons, please go to his website at: where you can also download for free the title track from his award winning CD “Nothing Between Us”.