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Colin Houlihan's Utopia Quartet

Austin-based Jazz saxophonist, composer, educator, and bandleader Colin Houlihan has worked as a sideman, frontman, session musician and live theatre performer, always artfully melding his passion for jazz with a variety of genres and influences. He began his professional music career in 2015 as a part of the award-winning, New Orleans-inspired Big Wy’s Brass Band before starting his own career as a session musician and bandleader. Houlihan was recently featured in Loma’s 2020 album Don’t Shy Away (Sub Pop), an internationally acclaimed album which also featured electro-godfather Brian Eno. That same year, Houlihan performed alongside Tony-nominated actress Mary Bridget Davies in the Zach Theatre's production of A Night With Janis Joplin, where the band's work was praised as, “so good, it may be better than the real thing,” (Austin Chronicle).

These days you can find the artist at the helm of Colin Houlihan's Utopia Quartet, a group of jazz musicians specializing in modernizing standards and presenting avante-garde original compositions. Born from an impromptu jam session during September of 2020, the group’s debut album The Beginning is an unapologetic break from convention and features songs in which commanding saxophone tones lead the group through freely improvised sections. The Beginning is a multi-faceted art piece and is heavily based on Houlihan’s own poetry, and features lush tonal ballads as well as powerful rock-inspired moments. Recently, the group was featured at the 2023 SXSW Music Festival.

"I like to start each song with a mantra. Whether it's in the drums, bass, piano, or sax most songs I write revolves around a single, central idea that everything can evolve and devolve around. We go through all sorts of styles. The way I write jazz is a lot like the way I hear EDM and pop music, and people tend to dig it a lot." -Colin Houlihan

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