Winter 2019

Instruments of Choice

Scores of Shocker performers are making music of note on all kinds of different instruments. Drums, guitar, flute, voice and trumpet are just five of them.

MATT WILSON ’86 is the New York-based drummer described by JazzTimes as “dazzling.” He’s one of the most in-demand players and educators on the modern jazz scene.

Photo by John Abbott

Wilson’s latest recording, Honey and Salt: Music Inspired by the Poetry of Carl Sandburg, has been noted by over 30 worldwide “Best of 2017” lists and earned a coveted 5-star review in DownBeat.

Since 1996, he has made 13 recordings as a leader for Palmetto Records, including acclaimed releases by the Matt Wilson Quartet, Arts & Crafts, and Christmas Tree-O. He has co-led another dozen albums and contributed his distinctive style on more than 400 more.

As an educator, Wilson conducts workshops and masterclasses at universities and festivals around the world. As a performer, he has played just about everywhere, including the White House. And, during his days at Wichita State as a student he met a number of musicians and became a hard-working drummer, gigging with the rockabilly outfit The Del Rays, plus Dwight Killian, the Steve Story Band with Michael Cox, and Gordon Schragg — amassing some 300 shows in one year.

DAN WELLER ’95/97 is the touring band member, electric and acoustic guitarist, backing vocalist, and banjo, mandolin, dobro and keys player for the wildly popular, multi-platinum country duo, Florida Georgia Line.

A classically trained country guitarist, Weller grew up in Hays, Kan., graduated in 1993 from Fort Hays State with a music degree and earned business degrees at Wichita State.

He ventured into the musical genres of jazz by playing in high school ensembles, into rock and pop when he started the band Zion, a regional success that played venues in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma, and into country rap when he landed a full-time gig touring with Colt Ford. It was while affiliated with Ford that he met Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, the duo of FGL. He joined the band in 2013 and is out now with them on their 2019 Can’t Say I Ain’t Country Tour.

AMBER UNDERWOOD ’02 is the music teacher and band director, multi-instrumentalist and band leader who brings the flute front and center into the vibrant Kansas City jazz scene.

She formed the Amber Underwood Project in 2014 with the mission of showcasing the flute as a solo instrument, employing its rich tones and colors in fresh interpretations of smooth jazz and R&B sounds.

A noted private flute instructor of all ages and an experienced public middle school band director in KCMO, she has been performing since she was 8 years old, first on the piano.

It was while working toward her bachelor’s degree in music, flute performance at Wichita State that she discovered jazz and was inspired by such musicians as Bobbi Humphrey, Hubert Laws, Frank Wess, Herbie Mann and Nestor Torres.

After her graduation from Wichita State, she went on to complete a master's degree in arts administration and music business at the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory, as well as a master's degree in music education from Pittsburg State University.

JC FISHER ’99 is the classically trained vocalist who formed The Texas Tenors, the three-time Emmy award winning trio that found fame and a worldwide fan base on America’s Got Talent, finishing fourth in 2009 and competing on AGT: The Champions in 2019. 

In 2018, the trio released A Collection of Broadway & American Classics. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Classical Albums Chart and spent 10 weeks in the top 10. 

The Texas Tenors first rose to national acclaim in 2009 when the group competed on AGT and landed in the show's finale. Since then, they have performed well over 1,300 concerts worldwide and garnered two critically-acclaimed PBS specials, not to mention written an award-winning children's book and song, and performed at The White House for the 2017 National Christmas Tree Lighting. Also in 2017, the trio was named Billboard's No. 10 Classical Crossover Artists.

DAVID HICKMAN ’74 is the Regents’ Professor of Music at Arizona State and one of the world’s leading classical trumpet soloists and teachers.

Hickman has performed over 2,000 solo appearances around the world as a recitalist or guest soloist with some 500 different orchestras. His tours have taken him to Japan, Korea, Thailand, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland — and almost every major American city.

He has released 19 solo albums, is founder of the acclaimed large brass ensemble Summit Brass and recipient of the prestigious Award of Merit from the International Trumpet Guild.


Wherever I May Roam

Michael Staab ’13 is a NASA spacecraft systems engineer/flight director. You bet he’s got some otherwordly stories to tell.

Instruments of Choice

Scores of Shocker performers are making music of note on all kinds of different instruments. Drums, guitar, flute, voice and trumpet are just five of them.

From Coast to Coast

Things move fast in the pros. Selected in the first round of the 2018 NBA draft, WSU's Landry Shamet has already played for two organizations: the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers.