Guest Jazz Pianist Headlines Feb. 22 at Art Tatum Celebration Concert

February 20, 2023 | Events, News, UToday, Alumni, Arts and Letters
By Angela Riddel

Music educator, composer and jazz pianist Dr. Alton Merrell is the guest artist for the 2023 Art Tatum Celebration Concert, Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. in the UToledo Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.

Part of UToledo’s celebration of Black History Month, the 2023 Art Tatum Celebration Concert is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are required.

Dr. Alton Merrell, a music educator, composer and jazz pianist, is the guest artist for the 2023 Art Tatum Celebration Concert, Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the UToledo Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall.

Merrell also will present a master class Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 4 p.m. in the Recital Hall. Music faculty Norm Damschroder, a senior lecturer (double bass and jazz), Olman Piedra, an associate professor (percussion and jazz), and Jay Weik, an associate lecturer (guitar and jazz), will accompany Merrell’s master class performance. RSVPs are not required for the master class, which is open to the public.

A world-class pianist, composer and educator, Merrell has performed and taught throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and parts of the Caribbean. His musical artistry is a unique blend of lyrical melodies, rich harmonies and fluid technique that spans multiple music genres including jazz, gospel, classical, pop and rhythm and blues.

Merrell has performed with legendary artists including Dee Dee Bridgewater, Curtis Fuller, Roger Humphries and Delfeayo Marsalis, and regularly performs with Pittsburgh’s best jazz artists.

A current member of the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra, Merrell also has performed multiple times with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, Cleveland State Jazz Heritage Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Concert Chorale.

Merrell is a member of the group Firm Roots, a jazz sextet featuring some of the finest musicians in Pittsburgh, and leads his own instrumental jazz group, Illuminators, and his own gospel jazz vocal group, Dr. Alton Merrell & Impact.

From the University of Pittsburgh, Merrell received his Ph.D. in jazz studies with a research focus on jazz piano performance and pedagogy. He is a professor of jazz studies at West Virginia University, is the former director of jazz studies at Youngstown State University and previously taught at the University of Pittsburgh.

To RSVP, visit or call the Music Department’s main office at 419.530.2448.

Complimentary parking will be provided in parking Areas 12 and 12S — with the exception of metered spaces. Parking in other areas will require payment via the ParkMobile app or a parking meter. Visit the ParkUToledo website for more information.

To support the Art Tatum Scholarship, visit The University of Toledo Foundation website and type “Tatum” in the search tool.

For more information on the 2023 Art Tatum Celebration Concert and other UToledo Department of Music events, visit the department’s website.


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