Improvisation is the ability to talk to oneself.
- Cecil Taylor, American pianist who was both classically trained and a pioneer of free jazz.
Rufus Ferguson is a jazz pianist who earned degrees from Western Michigan University under the mentorship of Jeremy Siskind and Matthew Fries. During his tenure at WMU he has studied with artists such as Scott Cowan, Andrew Rathbun, Edward Simon, and Frank Carlberg. Rufus got his start studying classical piano at the age of 5. He became a gospel church organist at a young age and later began playing jazz piano at age 13. His dedication to being equally well-versed in multiple genres of music has afforded him many unique opportunities such as playing with Grammy-nominated and award-winning artists and groups of all genres. Rufus is an experienced performer, arranger, composer and teacher, specifically in the jazz genre. His arrangements have most recently been presented by his 9-piece ensemble at the 2018 Gilmore Keyboard Festival. Rufus has performed at several festivals such as the Notre Dame Jazz Festival, Elmhurst Jazz Festival, Flint Jazz Festival and the Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference in Louisville, KY. He has also taught at many jazz camps including the Keith Hall Summer Drum Intensive in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Show Choir Camps of America at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio. Rufus has served as class piano instructor at Western Michigan University where he also directed the University Jazz Lab Band and is currently piano instructor for the Suzuki Academy of Kalamazoo, Crescendo Academy of Music, Kalamazoo Academy of Rock and Gilmore Education Department. He is also the Jazz Band Director at Portage Northern High School and rhythm section coach for the Kalamazoo Youth Jazz Orchestra.
Grayson is a pianist and composer from Aurora, IL. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz Studies from Western Michigan University, where he is currently pursuing his Master’s and working as the Keyboard Graduate Assistant. Grayson performs frequently around the Midwest and is most notably known for his role as keyboardist in the electronic, modern jazz group, Lushh. His playing style is extremely versatile and allows him to play everything from popular R&B and Hip-Hop to Jazz and Classical. Presently, Grayson is the pianist and arranger for Zion Lutheran Church and Solid Ground Ministries in Kalamazoo, MI. He has also worked with the Showchoir Camps of America and taught jazz piano at Camp Encore/Coda in Sweden, ME. He has studied with Jeremy Siskind, Matthew Fries, Edward Simon, and Frank Carlberg and has had the pleasure of performing with Randy Brecker, Chico Pinheiro, Sunny Wilkinson, Billy Hart, Theo Bleckmann, Peter Eldridge, Kate McGarry, Lauren Kinhan, Keith Hall, and Andrew Rathbun.