The Western Jazz Quartet
The WESTERN JAZZ QUARTET is a resident faculty ensemble in the School of Music at Western Michigan University. Formed in 1974, the quartet combines performing and teaching with uncommon success as they promote jazz music and jazz education through a very active schedule of tours, concerts and workshops. Activities range from performances for school children of all ages to concerts, tours and recordings with such artists as Art Farmer, Stefon Harris, Kenny Werner, Billy Hart, Mark Murphy, Randy Brecker, Dave Liebman, Janis Siegel, and Bobby McFerrin.
The Western Jazz Quartet has performed from Boston to Los Angeles, and tours regularly world wide. It has been featured at festivals in Canada, Europe and the U.S., and at a week of performances at La Villa in Paris, France. The group was honored with sponsorship by the Arts America Program and often tours as artistic ambassadors for the US Department of State including Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Poland, Italy, Croatia, and Slovenia. The quartet has also toured Europe four times with pianist Wlodek Pawlik, drum legend Billy Hart, and jazz legend Randy Brecker.
The Western Jazz Quartet has released five CDs in the United States: Mayan Myths (2006), Premiere (2005), with trumpeter Scott Cowan; and Sabine’s Dance (2000), Blue Harts (1995) and Firebird (1992) with Billy Hart.  Both Firebird and Blue Harts received top reviews in Down Beat magazine, with Firebird being named one of the best CD’s of the 1990s. The group has released several CD’s in Europe with pianist Wlodek Pawlik: Waning Moon (2000) on Universal Mercury Records; Turtles (1996), with Randy Brecker, on Polonia Records; and Live at the Jazz Club Aquarium (1995) with Billy Hart  on the Koch International label.
In April of 1996, the quartet was invited to tour Thailand in honor of the 50th anniversary of the king’s accession to the throne. The Western Jazz Quartet has recently been appearing throughout the United States as soloists with symphony orchestras performing Patrick Williams’ “An American Concerto” and other works.  As members of the contemporary music ensemble, OPUS 21, the WJQ has premiered over a dozen new works in New York City since 2004.
“…imaginative with brilliant flashes of impeccable technique, and a persistence of serious musical intensity.”
                -The Chronicle
Trent Kynaston, Saxophone
Tom Knific, Bass
Steve Zegree, Piano
Tim Froncek, Drums
Tom Knific has performed on tour and on record with Gene Bertoncini, Randy Brecker, Art Farmer, Dave Brubeck, and others. He and Eric Marienthal co-led the “Dream Band” with Toots Thielemans, Kenny Werner and Harvey Mason in the first live interactive jazz concert multi-cast world wide over the Internet. A renown educator, his students have toured and recorded with Betty Carter, Vincent Herring, Cedar Walton, and perform in orchestras on three continents.  He is professor of bass and director of jazz studies at Western Michigan University and leader of the WJQ. The WJQ has appeared on four continents receiving rave reviews for their five CD’s of original music. Knific’s two solo CD’s, “Home Bass, 1998, and “Siena”, 2004, have received critical acclaim. Knific is president of the International Society of Bassists.
Trent Kynaston is professor of music at Western Michigan University where he teaches saxophone, arranging, directs an award winning big band and performs with the Western Jazz Quartet. He is a recipient of the coveted gold Medaille d’Honore from the Conservatoire National de Musique de Bordeaux. He has published numerous books and articles internationally on various aspects of music and is recognized throughout the world for his jazz solo transcription books. He has made over a dozen recordings, including five with the Western Jazz Quartet. His compositions form the heart of the WJQ repertoire.
Tim Froncek is the most respected drummer that resides in Michigan. He has performed with Woody Herman, Ray Brown, Randy Brecker, Christian McBride, Oliver Jones, Bud Shank, Bill Watrous, and others. As a visiting artist at Western Michigan University, he teaches drum set and combos. As drummer for the Western Jazz Quartet, he has toured North, South, and Central America, as well as Europe and Asia. He can be heard on the three most recent WJQ CD’s. Tim is a professor of jazz studies at Grand Valley State University and leads his own big band in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Tim is a clinician for Yamaha Drums.
Steve Zegree is considered one of the world‘s leading authorities on vocal jazz. His Western Michigan University collegiate group, the Gold Company, sets the standard. He is professor of jazz and classical piano at WMU. He appears world wide as both a classical and jazz pianist, and as an educator in instrumental and vocal jazz. He has published extensively for Hal Leonard, the world’s largest music publisher, and has published the definitive text on vocal jazz pedagogue for Heritage Press. A renowned educator, his former students are among today’s leaders in jazz and pop performance, Broadway, recording studio production, writing, arranging, singing, and music education.