Friday, February 20, 2015


The saxophone/woodwind quartet Iron Toys announces a public release concert and party for their new CD to be held Saturday, February 28, 7 p.m. at the Happy Grape Wine Bar in Lexington, Ohio.   

Founded in 2004 in Cleveland Ohio, the woodwind quartet features the accomplished and highly respected musicianship of Howie Smith, Rich Shanklin, Tom Reed and George Shernit. With a diverse repertoire exploring classical music, jazz and related styles composed or arranged by members of the quartet, this recording also presents Jim McNeely’s engaging and challenging composition Three Conversations.  Major funding for the project was made possible by the Ashland University Faculty Development program and the Ashland University Department of Music. 

Tom Reed is Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department at Ashland University, principal clarinetist of the Ashland Symphony Orchestra, and bass clarinetist with the Akron Symphony Orchestra.  He has performed regularly with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and the Cleveland Chamber Symphony. Tom has also been soloist with the Akron, Mansfield, Clarence (NY) and Ashland Symphonies, and has recorded with the Akron Symphony, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the Jazz Unit, the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and the Paul Ferguson Jazz Orchestra.  His clarinet CD “Mutually Inclusive” was released in 2008. 

Rich Shanklin has recently retired from 31 years of teaching at the University of Akron.  He taught classical and jazz saxophone, coached saxophone quartets, and taught courses in Jazz Arranging, History of Jazz, and the Business of Music. He has performed with the Jazz Unit, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Akron and Canton Symphonies, the Blossom Festival Band, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, and is a first-call woodwind doubler for dozens of musical pit orchestra performances at Cleveland's Playhouse Square. 

George Shernit received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Theory/Composition and a Master of Arts in Saxophone Performance from Cleveland State University.  As a freelance musician for 35 years, he has performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Blossom Festival Band, and numerous Broadway shows and entertainers.  He also toured with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and the road show of “Annie.”  For the past 28 years he has worked in the wholesale music business, including 7 years in Austin, Texas, as national sales manager for Jupiter Band Instruments. 

Howie Smith has presented concerts and workshops throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Europe and Australia, and has worked with musicians, composers and ensembles as varied as Anthony Braxton, Gary Burton, Dizzy Gillespie, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Elvis Presley, John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Tone Road Ramblers.  His recorded performances are equally diverse and his extensive catalogue of compositions includes works for conventional big bands and combos; for string, wind and percussion ensembles; for electronics; and for mixed media.  Recordings of his work may be heard on the Philips, Polydor, Albany, Open Blue, Optimism and Sea Breeze labels. Smith is a professor emeritus at Cleveland State University, where he was the coordinator of jazz studies from 1979 to 2006 and served as chair of the Art Department from 2003 to 2007.  He has been an artist/clinician for Yamaha since 1971.

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