The Cool Trio met in 2006 when all three of us were colleagues on the faculty of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois. In addition to multiple performances on the EIU campus, versions of this program have been presented at universities in Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Alabama, and Kansas.
When not practicing our 11/8 rhythms or working on our intonation, the CT can be found playing Euchre, memorizing Jason Mraz songs, eating homemade pizza, or revisiting decade-old inside jokes.
Maureen Murchie, violin
Paul Johnston, piano
Magie Smith, clarinet
Trio for Violin, Clarinet & Piano (2008)
Paul Johnston (b. 1975)
David N. Baker (1931-2016)
Buddy and Beyond
Trio for Violin, Clarinet & Piano (2008)
-from the composer, Paul Johnston
In the early 2000s, Los Angeles-based wind quintet Orion Winds commissioned me to write a new piece for them. The result was a work that featured contrasting moods, interesting counterpoint, and a distinctive rhythmic ostinato. As we were discussing possibilities of selections to include on the program, this trio came to mind, and I reworked some of the material from this earlier composition into Trio for Violin, Clarinet and Piano. The violinist and clarinetist in the trio especially enjoy playing in 11/8, and the composer appreciates their perseverance.
Heritage Trio is a tribute to some of the clarinet giants in jazz history. In this piece, David Baker incorporates transcribed solos of legendary clarinetists into an original composition. While most of the work is written out, the composition also leaves space for the pianist to improvise. “Buddy and Beyond” pays tribute to the great bebop clarinetist Buddy DeFranco. Based on the chord changes to Miles Davis’ Half Nelson, the movement weaves through many different keys and moods. “Artie” honors the legendary Artie Shaw and contains material for the Gramercy Five recording Special Delivery Stomp. “BBBB” is a blues that celebrates the musical legacy of Barney Bigard and Buster Bailey. The final movement, “BG,” honors the incomparable Benny Goodman and includes the chord changes and Benny Goodman’s solo on China Doll. -Paul Johnston
Maureen Murchie performs on modern and Baroque violin and viola across the US as well as in China, Japan, and Europe, where a tour with Baroque ensemble El Mundo included a concert at the Tage Alter Musik Regensburg. Recent engagements include Handel+Haydn Society, Trinity Baroque Orchestra, New York Baroque Incorporated, American Classical Orchestra, NOVUS, El Mundo, Grand Harmonie, Garth Newel Piano Quartet, Mark Morris Dance Company, Mercury Ensemble, Staunton Music Festival, Boulder Bach Festival, REBEL, Bethlehem Bach Festival, and the Broadway runs of Farinelli and the King and Tootsie. Maureen holds a doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she wrote a dissertation on the history of the Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra. Having grown up in Japan and attended Japanese schools, Maureen is also in demand as a Japanese translator and interpreter. She lives in New York City and works as Sales & Marketing Administrator and content writer at BIA, a Manhattan-based eDiscovery firm.
Paul R. Johnston has enjoyed a multi-faceted career as a pianist, composer, and teacher. He is at home in a wide variety of musical styles and has performed with leading artists across the country, including Clark Terry, Nancy Wilson, Monica Mancini, and Bernadette Peters. Soloists, chamber groups, and jazz ensembles regularly perform his compositions and arrangements, and Alfred Music has published several collections of his solo piano arrangements. Paul is Professor of Music at Eastern Illinois University, where he directs the Jazz Lab Band, coordinates the combo program, and teaches jazz piano, improvisation, and arranging. Paul is an alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Indiana University, Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, and the Henry Mancini Institute.
Magie Smith is Associate Professor of Clarinet at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, where she has taught applied clarinet, as well as general education and Music History courses. She is an active recitalist, chamber and orchestral musician, clinician, and adjudicator throughout the United States. She earned Master’s and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in clarinet from The Ohio State University. While at Ohio State, Dr. Smith was the recipient of the prestigious University Fellowship, served as the graduate teaching associate for the clarinet studio, and held responsibilities in the music education department. Her principal teachers include James Pyne, Tod Kerstetter, John Carmichael, and Lee Levine. Dr. Smith has been recorded on the Naxos label and has performed with numerous orchestras in the United States. These include the Central Ohio Symphony Orchestra, the Springfield (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra, the Bowling Green Chamber Orchestra, the Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, and the Danville Symphony Orchestra. In the summer of 2011, she was selected to play principal clarinet with the Franco-American Vocal Academy chamber orchestra in a production of Jacques Offenbach’s La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, in Périgueux, France and surrounding villages throughout Aquitaine. Dr. Smith has served as clarinet faculty at the Interlochen Arts Camp and at the CICA International Summer Music Festival. In her free time, Dr. Smith enjoys cooking, storytelling, and traveling.