Iron Toys Quartet Schedules CD Release Concert

Iron Toys Quartet Schedules CD Release Concert
Iron Toys Quartet (l-r) Howie Smith, Rich Shanklin, George Shernit, Tom Reed

2/17/15 ASHLAND, Ohio – The saxophone/woodwind quartet Iron Toys will hold a public release concert and party to celebrate its new CD on Saturday, Feb. 28, at 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. Reed also has been soloist with the Akron, Mansfield, Clarence (N.Y.) 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 recently retired after 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 seven 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.

For more information about Iron Toys, visit their Facebook page or contact Tricia Applegate, coordinator of performing arts publicity and events, at 419-289-5950 or

Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###