Cavanagh Scales Back With New Indie Jazz CD

After years of big band composition and performance, pianist Dan Cavanagh was looking for a simpler, purer sound and approach to his music.

So he partnered with his colleague and former professor Dave Hagedorn to explore the kind of music a piano and vibraphone might make. The result is the recently released, independent record, “Horizon.”

“It’s very different to not have a bass player and drummer,” said Cavanagh, Associate Professor of Music at UT Arlington. “It exposes the players … [and] allows for intimate musical conversation and interaction, which is the fun of it for us. We were able to try some things we couldn’t do in a big band.”

There’s plenty of history between the two jazz musicians: Cavanagh spent part of his undergraduate years in Hagedorn’s music classes and Hagedorn, a St. Olaf College professor, joined his former pupil on Cavanagh’s 2008 big band album, “Pulse.” Since 2006, the two have collaborated and gigged regularly, often in Minneapolis and Texas.

The duo came together in January 2010 and spent several days recording in the recently opened UTA Studios. “Horizons” is the first album released that was recorded solely in the UT Arlington facility.

The new record is a mix of originals and covers, Cavanagh said. Among jazz classics like “Cry Me a River” and “Stormy Weather” are a handful of instrumentals penned by Cavanagh over the past four or five years. Though most of the songs were written with multiple instruments in mind, Cavanagh said the challenge of only playing as a duo held its share of rewards.

“The thing that ties it together is the intimate setting,” he said. “When you have two instruments that can play chords, a lot of textures can be created. I think what we’re doing is different than what others are doing … just because we’re trying to make good music. Jazz is pretty fluid.”

Cavanagh said he and Hagedorn are planning for short tours in North America and Europe in the next 18 months. For now, they’ll be promoting their latest release and playing the occasional gig as their busy academic schedules allow.

“Horizon” is available for purchase at, and

Jazz pianist Dan Cavanagh (left), Associate Professor of Music, teamed up with colleague Dave Hagedorn on a new indie album, "Horizon." (Photo credit: Justin Oakman Photography)

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