“You can’t think and play. If you think about what you’re playing the playing becomes stilted. You have to just focus on the music I feel, concentrate on the music, focus on what you’re playing and let the playing come out. Once you start thinking about doing this or doing that, it’s not good. What you are doing is like a language. You have a whole collection of musical ideas and thoughts that you’ve accumulated through your musical history plus all the musical history of the whole world and it’s all in your subconscious and you draw upon it when you play”
- Joe Pass, one of the greatest jazz guitarists of the 20th century
Hailing from Wichita, Kansas, Nathan Borton is a Michigan based Jazz guitar player that draws heavily from the mid-western tradition of bebop and the blues. His studies and performances have taken him across the United States from Brevard, North Carolina to East Lansing, Michigan, and everywhere in-between. Currently, Nathan is a Teaching Assistant for the nationally acclaimed Jazz Studies program at Michigan State University under the direction of Rodney Whitaker. There he is studying guitar under the tutelage of the great Randy Napoleon. Nathan has played with and alongside names such as: Freddie Cole, Melissa Aldana, Dmitri Matheny, Cyrus Chestnut, Brad Leali, Tanya Darby, and Jerry Hahn. He has also performed at various music festivals including: The Detroit Jazz Festival, the East Lansing Jazz Festival, The Lansing Jazz Festival, The Kalamazoo Jazz Festival, and the KCKCC Festival. Recently, Nathan was a finalist in the Wilson Center International Guitar Competition located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Nathan is also an avid educator of music. He currently teaches at the Jazz and Creative Institute in Kalamazoo, Michigan under the direction of Benje and Ashley Daneman. JCI was most recently featured in Downbeat magazine. Nathan has also taught and mentored at various camps around the nation such as: The Brevard Jazz Institute in Brevard, North Carolina and The Spectrum Music Camp in East Lansing, Michigan.
Andrew is a guitarist and composer from San Diego, CA. He graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in Jazz Studies, and currently performs throughout southwest Michigan. He has performed in the award-winning groups Gold Company, Frequency, MOJO, and the Western Michigan University Advanced Jazz Collective, and is part of the Downbeat award-winning group Lushh, as well as the Sam Pilnick Project and H.O.M.E. Andrew has received awards from Western Michigan University, Miracosta College, and Downbeat Magazine, and has been fortunate enough to perform with such artists as Chico Pinheiro, Ernie Watts, George Garzone, Brian Bromberg, Fred Wesley, Allen Hinds, Randy Brecker, Deborah Brown, Edward Simon, Billy Hart, Peter Erskine, and Peter Eldridge.
Matt Landon is a passionate musician and educator. Being most accomplished as a jazz guitarist, Landon has performed alongside Joey DeFrancesco, Donny McCaslin, Paquito D’Rivera, Fred Hersch, Jeff Hamilton, Dave Liebman, Ingrid Jensen, Sammy Figueroa, Nestor Torres, Sheila Jordan, and many more jazz masters. He recently recorded an album with the jazz/classical crossover group, All Angles Orchestra featuring master trumpeter, Alex Sipiagin, on which he was thoroughly featured as a soloist. Remaining an in-demand sideman, Landon has also earned awards for his pursuits as a leader. In 2012, the modern jazz/rock group Desolation Row, led by Landon, won a Downbeat Magazine Student Music Award (SMA) for Best Blues/Pop/Rock Group—Landon’s work with this group on their debut album Remember to Breathe also earned him the Downbeat SMA for Best Blues/Pop/Rock soloist the same year. After earning his Bachelor’s of Music in Jazz Studies at Western Michigan University in 2012, Landon entered the 2013 Montreux International Jazz Guitar Competition in Montreux, Switzerland, placing third; was a semi-finalist in the 2015 Wes Montgomery International Guitar Competition; and placed second in the 2017 Wilson Center Guitar Competition.
In addition to his many pursuits as a performing guitarist, Landon enjoys teaching private lessons and master classes, covering the topics of harmony, theory, improvisation, composition, repertoire, and general musicianship. Landon recently earned a Master’s of Music degree in Jazz Studies from the University of Northern Colorado, where he held a teaching assistantship, coaching small groups, co-directing Lab Band II, and teaching improvisation and private lessons. Starting in the fall of 2018, Landon will be attending the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where he will also be teaching Jazz History while earning his DMA in Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media. Outside of the jazz realm, Landon also enjoys singing and songwriting, and has earned a reputation as an energetic and charismatic solo performer who can entertain any crowd by drawing from an inclusive and ever-expanding popular song repertoire that spans seven decades and many genres.