Utah Hamrick joined the Texas State School of Music faculty in the fall of 2015, and has been the Director of Jazz Studies since 2018. A jazz educator who holds a BM in Music Education and MM in Bass Performance from Central Michigan University, and a DMA in Jazz Performance from the University of Texas, Dr. Hamrick conducts the Jazz Ensemble and teaches jazz bass, graduate jazz history, and graduate jazz pedagogy. Under his direction, the Jazz Ensemble has appeared with such jazz luminaries as Conrad Herwig, James Morrison, Brian Bromberg, Jim McNeely, John Reilly, Joel Frahm and Gregg Bissonnette; opened for the Count Basie Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Orchestra; performed at the Texas Jazz Festival, the Notre Dame Jazz Festival, the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, the Percussive Arts Society International Conference, and the Texas Music Educators Association Convention; and had regular performances at Parker Jazz Club and Monk’s Jazz Club.
Dr. Hamrick has been a freelance bassist in central Texas for the last 20 years, performing with a wide range of ensembles including numerous jazz groups, the Austin Symphony, and the Austin Chamber Music Center. For the last 13 years he has been performing with composer Graham Reynolds, including his work with Golden Arm Trio, Austin Ballet, Forklift Danceworks, the motion picture soundtracks for Bernie and All is Bright, and touring internationally with his opera Pancho Villa from a Safe Distance. Utah has also performed with jazz luminaries such as Houston Person, Doug Lawrence, Byron Stripling, Larry Ham, Bill Watrous, and Tommy Igoe, and with Willie Nelson for the opening of the ACL Live Moody Theater. He can be heard on the JazzBonez release Watch it! on Summit records, with Altin Sencalar on Reconnected from Outside in Music, Prisoner of Love and Power to Change with Jennifer Zavaleta on Willow Tree Records, and the animated short The OceanMaker.
For ten years Dr. Hamrick taught at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where he directed the jazz ensemble and combos and taught jazz history and improvisation. Under his direction, the jazz ensemble received numerous recognitions, including Outstanding Collegiate Band at the Sam Houston State Jazz Festival, straight I-ratings at the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Festival, and an invitation to perform at the 2016 TMEA conference. Dr. Hamrick was also a bass instructor at Austin Community College for 9 years and band director in the Ubly, Michigan Community Schools for six years.