Composer returns to Mid-Missouri for concert

Dan Musselman's been playing the piano for 22 years - since he was 5. Now a composer, jazz pianist and college music teacher, Musselman will head a quartet in concert Sunday evening in Jefferson City where he grew up.

Dan Musselman's been playing the piano for 22 years - since he was 5. Now a composer, jazz pianist and college music teacher, Musselman will head a quartet in concert Sunday evening in Jefferson City where he grew up.

Dan Musselman’s been playing the piano for 22 years — since he was 5.

Now a composer, jazz pianist and college music teacher, Musselman will head a quartet in a 90-minute concert Sunday evening in Jefferson City at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 1529 Southwest Boulevard — where he grew up and where his father has been pastor for 18 years.

“He started in the Suzuki piano program, and it was clear from the beginning that there was something special about his ability, because he caught on very quickly,” Dan’s father, Scott Musselman, explained this week.

And the piano has remained his specialty.

“Dan had classical piano training with Jan Houser throughout his youth in Jefferson City,” his father said, “(and) owes much of his success to (her) profound teaching ability.”

But Musselman also played trumpet in Jefferson City High School’s concert and jazz bands, and played guitar in rock bands.

After graduating high school in 2005, Dan Musselman went to the McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, Minn., on a “full-ride tuition” scholarship named for singer Diana Ross.

“He almost (met her), but not quite,” Scott Musselman said.

He completed his bachelor’s degree in piano performance in 2008.

His online biography (danmusselman.com) notes he graduated “summa cum laude, salutatorian, and was the sole recipient of the ‘Outstanding Student’ Award.”

That same year, he released his first solo CD, “Ruminations,” containing all original, improvised material.

A year later, he began teaching piano courses and lessons, music theory, and ear training at the Minnesota school.

Sunday’s concert features his newest work, “Devotion,” which was released in June.

It is “based on five books of the Bible — Genesis, Job, Luke, Acts and Revelation,” Scott Musselman said. “His point was to make kind of a journey through the Bible.”

Dan will explain during Sunday’s program, Scott said, but the music in “Devotion” follows a “Peter and the Wolf” style, where “different aspects of the music — such as God as Creator, that same theme will always happen no matter what part of the piece it is. If it’s the Holy Spirit, it always sounds the same.”

Half the proceeds from sales of the “Devotion” CD benefit a Twin CIties-based international ministry called “Feed My Starving Children,” (www.fmsc.org) which provides food to needy children throughout the world.

“Not only is (Dan) convicted by their mission, but he participates as well,” Scott Musselman said.

Sunday’s quartet also features a 2006 Jefferson City High School graduate, trumpeter Hermon Mehari, who “has extraordinary jazz trumpet gifts (and has) gotten accolades literally all over the world — he’s competed in, and won, all sorts of jazz trumpeting competitions,” Scott Musselman explained.

Drummer Brian Steever and Zach Beeson on bass — who both have played with Mehari around Kansas City — round out Sunday’s ensemble.

Scott Musselman said defining the music as “jazz” may be misleading to some.

“This isn’t 20th century jazz. This isn’t New Orleans jazz,” he said. “This is 21st century jazz that incorporates a variety of kinds of music — that they often reference these days as ‘fusion’ — that has aspects of rock-and-roll, aspects of big band.

“It really incorporates a wide variety of styles of music — and what makes it really jazz is that it maintains that very individualized style, driven by improvisation.”

Sunday’s program runs from 5-6:30 p.m. in Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Sanctuary. There’s no charge, but a $10 donation is suggested.

The evening program caps a musical weekend at the church.

Sunday morning, during the 9 a.m. service, the “Our Savior’s Singers” choir will present Dan Musselman’s choral composition, “Out of the Depths,” which is based on Psalm 130.

And Saturday night is the latest in the church’s “Vine” summer concert series, featuring Andy Telman and a band from Columbia at 6 p.m., joining the church’s praise band, “Small Solution.” That free program also includes food, like hamburgers and hot dogs, and a “bounce house” for kids.

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