DAVE HILLIKER TRIO
"David Hilliker has emerged as a swinging drummer, with a feel-good beat.
Who could ask for anything more?"
-- bassist, John Clayton
Dave Hilliker - drums
Katie Ernst - bass, vocals
Tom Vaitsas - piano
Born into a musical family in upstate New York and having two older brothers who toured and recorded with Brother Jack McDuff, drummer David Hilliker had music all around him. Early studies with David Chitambar back in New York led to studies later in life with the legendary Ed Thigpen and John Von Ohlen. Having performed all around the Midwest, he has also had the opportunity to perform with (some of his hereos).....Melvin Rhyne, Joey DeFrancesco, Pat Bianchi, Dave Stryker, John Clayton, Benny Green, Joe Beck, Ali Ryerson, Tony Monaco, Ingrid Jensen, Frank D'Rone, and legendary tenor saxophonists George Coleman and Von Freeman. His attitude toward the music and the role of the drum chair is to “lay down the groove, swing hard, stay out of the way and make the rest of the band sound better”.
The Chicago Reader refers to pianist Tom Vaitsas as a “local great” who is “massively resourceful.” Tom is one of the most – if not the most – in-demand pianists and keyboardists in Chicago, performing every night and most days. He is a frequent collaborator and arranger, being an essential part of many projects.
He has performed with an extensive amount of notable musicians, a small sampling including: Von Freeman, Victor Goines, Buddy Guy, Chuck Webb Band, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Hubert Sumlin, Paul Marinaro, Frank D’Rone, The New Standard Quintet, Abigail Riccards, Bobbi Wilsyn, Tammy McCann, Duke Payne, Jimmy Owens, Willie Kent, Pinetop Perkins, Red Holt, Richie Cole, Doc Severinsen and toured Europe multiple times with the great blues men, Carrie and Lurie Bell. Tom is currently recording, and touring with blues artist, Guy King. He also plays extensively in Chicago’s Greek music scene.
Katie Ernst is a bassist, vocalist, composer, and improviser in Chicago. In addition to performing with David Hilliker at this year’s Elkhart Jazz Festival, Katie’s recent creative projects include collaborative trio Twin Talk, chamber duo Wayfaring, and “Little Words,” an original song cycle based on poetry of Dorothy Parker. She has been profiled in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Reader, and Jazziz Magazine, among others, and has performed nationally at festivals and performing arts centers, including the Chicago Jazz Festival, Rochester International Jazz Festival, Chicago Symphony Center, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.