Wooden Cities | contemporary music ensemble


Wooden Cities has had the pleasure of working with a number of amazing artists over the past few years. Below is a list of performers and composers who were formerly members of the ensemble, and with whom the group still frequently collaborates. Click here for a list of artists currently working with the ensemble.

Wooden Cities
Daniel Bassin
Daniel Bassin, trumpet

Daniel Bassin is an active conductor, composer, trumpeter and improviser, currently Music Director of the University at Buffalo Symphony Orchestra, a position he began in autumn 2010, and the newly-appointed Music Director/Choir Conductor at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo.

A passionate advocate of contemporary music, Daniel has led first performances of over 80 new works, and has performed as a conductor and trumpeter in 37 countries. In 2008 he acted as assistant conductor for the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra's 16-city tour of the American West Coast and Midwest. In 2012, Daniel was featured as guest conductor for the Williamsville School District String Orchestra Festival, he had his debut as conductor of the Slee Sinfonietta in April of that year, and he also conducted the UB Percussion Ensemble at the 2012 June in Buffalo Festival. In May 2013, Daniel participated in Ensemble Linea's conducting master classes at the Royaumont Abbey, under the tutelage of Peter Eötvös and Jean-Philippe Wurtz, where he was selected to lead a performance of Karlheinz Stockhausen's Kontra-Punkta.

Dan Bassin at UB Music

T.J. Borden
T.J. Borden, 'cello

Tyler J. Borden grew up in Rochester, NY. He has performed with modern music luminaries such as the JACK Quartet, Tony Conrad, and Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky. He has performed at the Soundways New Music Festival in St. Petersburg and June in Buffalo and is currently a member of the SWITCH~ ensemble. He has premiered solo works by composers such as Lena Nietfeld, Ben Isaacs, and Zane Merritt. He has been commissioned to write and perform by a variety of entities, including the Cleveland Institute of Art, the Hochstein Alumni Orchestra, and hammered dulcimer virtuoso Mitzie Collins and he is regularly active as an improviser. His primary teachers have been Elizabeth Simkin and Jonathan Golove. He is currently working towards his DMA at UC San Diego with Charles Curtis.


Jacob Gotlib
Jacob Gotlib, electronics & composer

Jacob Gotlib was born and raised in Louisville, KY, and has written music for instruments, electronics, dance, and multimedia. His music is regularly played in North America and Europe, most recently at the Wellesley Composers Conference (Wellesley, MA), the Acht Brücken Festival (Cologne, Germany), and June in Buffalo (Buffalo, NY). His works have been premiered by a variety of American and European ensembles, including Ensemble SurPlus, Ensemble Linea, and the Crossfire Percussion Duo.

Jacob has studied at the Oberlin Conservatory, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and currently studies with David Felder at SUNY at Buffalo. He has a pet hedgehog named Ormsby.


Michelle Purdy
Michelle Purdy, percussion

Michelle Purdy is a contemporary percussionist committed to performing, teaching, experimenting, and commissioned new works from both emerging and established composers. Ms. Purdy's passion for contemporary works has led to a vast array of opportunities including performances at Baltimore's Artscape Festival, The Megapolis Audio Festival, So Percussion's Summer Institute, IFCP at Mannes, June in Buffalo, Make Music New York, and The Center for Advanced Musical Studies at Chosen Vale.

Purdy received her B.A. in Percussion Performance at UMBC, where she was a recipient of the Linehan Artist Scholar Award, and her Masters from the University at Buffalo where she studied with Tom Kolor of Talujon. Ms. Purdy is currently freelancing in the Baltimore area.

Aaron Staebell
Aaron Staebell, percussion

Aaron Staebell hails from Buffalo, NY and has lived in Rochester, NY since 2001. Having earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Staebell is an in-demand performer, clinician, and composer both locally and nationwide. He has played with such visionaries as Bob Brookmeyer, Maria Schneider and Tony Malaby. He is a member of the Brownman Electryc Trio (Toronto, CA) and has performed with smooth jazz trumpeter Rick Braun and jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon. Staebell has also spent time as the drummer for the hip-hop syndicate "Gruvasylum" featuring Mad Dukez and for jazz vocalist Madeline Forster. He was a member of Downbeat Magazine's "Best Collegiate Jazz Ensemble" in 2009 with the ESM New Jazz Ensemble and Dave Rivello. His playing has been described as "honest, unpredictable and refreshing" and he is a frequent first-call for recording sessions, musicals, concerts and a wide range of freelance projects.

Staebell's playing can be heard on two other recent releases: Dave Chisholm's Calligraphy, and a release from Ben Thomas featuring free jazz legend Tony Malaby called Endless Mountain Regions. He has already recorded the tracks for the forthcoming Instrumental project by Dave Chisholm, which combines a suite of 8 songs with a 200 page graphic novel.


"It has been my pleasure to hear Wooden Cities performing a wide variety of contemporary music on numerous occasions. Having run my own new music ensemble for over 25 years, I understand the challenges of starting a group from scratch, developing and maintaining a solid artistic identity, and creating a niche for a unique musical product. Wooden Cities is more than up to the task, and I look forward to hearing and seeing what they present in the future. I have the highest admiration for this ensemble."

Jon Nelson
Professor, University at Buffalo
Music Department
Founding Member/Trumpet,
Meridian Arts Ensemble