"The band takes a unique and academic approach to a rich combination of jazz and new music, combining a range of talent and experience in their young members, to create a sound original, exploratory, and all their own." - Toledo.com
“Local jazz prodigy Estar Cohen [vocalist for Talking Ear]…is serious about her art and analytical about how it works, but also passionate and joyful about doing what she loves.” - Toledo Free Press
"It's far too rare that I can engage with a piece of jazz music. And this one is an odyssey, a stir of different styles, sensibilities, era's and experimentation." - Jeff Milo, DeepCutz
Estar Cohen is a vocalist, lyricist, arranger, and award winning composer based out of Toledo, Ohio. She has performed alongside renowned musicians including Jon Hendricks, Peter Eldridge, Tad Weed, Pete Siers, David Bixler, Shahidah Nurullah, Claude Black, Clifford Murphy, Guy Mintus, and Jeff Halsey among others. As a bandleader, Estar released her debut album "Waiting For Dawn" in 2015, demonstrating her versatility as a writer and musician. Estar earned a B.M. in Jazz Performance at the University of Toledo where she performed with numerous ensembles including the Latin Jazz Ensemble, Vocalstra, Contemporary Music Ensemble, and Jazz Combo. Her studies with pianist Tad Weed has led to a collaborative project of lyricizing the music of the late Herbie Nichols as well as Weed's original music. Estar has also collaborated with guitarist and educator Jay Rinsen Weik, exploring the art of free improvisational music and lyrics as a duo. In 2015, Estar was chosen as a finalist in the Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards and In 2014, was given the Craig's Keyboard Student Composer Award for her original vocal ensemble composition, The Day The Government Shut Down. Notably, she was the first vocalist to appear with the JECO Intercollegiate Jazz Ensemble in 2012 and 2013.
Daniel Palmer is a guitarist, composer, and arranger from Traverse City, Michigan. He has been actively performing throughout the southern Michigan region and Greater Toledo area since 2007 as both a classical and jazz guitarist. Daniel received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Albion College in 2011, studying classical guitar under the direction of Larry Williams, as well as improvisation with saxophonist Bobby Streng. During the spring of 2013, Daniel received a MM in Music Performance from the University of Toledo, studying jazz guitar and improvisation under the direction of Jay Rinsen Weik and Gunnar Mossblad. During this time, he began teaching at Albion College and Hillsdale College, where he is presently an adjunct professor of guitar. Daniel is regularly composing, performing, and recording with groups such as Talking Ear, MAP Trio, Andrew Maxbauer, Jackson Jazz Ensemble, The 127’s, and Toledo based group the Estar Cohen Project. Most recently, Daniel can be heard on the 2014 release from the Estar Cohen Project, “Waiting for Dawn”.
Benjamin Maloney is a pianist, composer, and arranger from Toledo, Ohio. He was motivated and drawn to music early in life, beginning piano lessons at the age of six. This early musical intuition inevitably led Ben to explore improvisation and Jazz. Maloney spent the last six years developing his craft within the University of Toledo Music Department, recently graduating with a Bachelors degree in music performance with a Jazz concentration. During his time at UT, Ben had the amazing opportunity to be mentored by and play with acclaimed Jazz and Classical musicians including Claude Black, Tim Whalen, Gunnar Mossblad, Jon Hendricks, and Tad Weed. Additionally, Ben has also been working and playing gigs regularly around the Greater Toledo area for many years as a bandleader and accompanist. Notably, he has been featured twice at the Jazz Master’s Concert Series at the Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor, and was a finalist in the 2013 ASCAP young jazz composers competition.
Ben Rolston is a bass player and composer born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2012, he released his debut album, Fables. Consisting of 10 original compositions, Fables represents a wide palate of stylistic influences, and was well received by audiences and critics alike. The broad vision of music represented on Fables is borne out in the variety of musical projects Rolston has been a part of. As a bassist, Rolston has had the opportunity to perform in an extraordinarily wide array of musical contexts, including hip hop (Tree City), Americana (The Appleseed Collective) and Balkan Music (Ornamatik). Rolston has traveled the world as a musician, performing at the United States Embassy in Honduras, touring the United States extensively for three years as a member of the Appleseed Collective, and participating in musical and cultural exchanges in Japan and India. As a student, he collaborated with master choreographer Dianne McIntyre, and was hand-picked to attend the artist intensive at Ravinia, where he was able to study with Rufus Reid, David Baker, Nathan Davis, and Curtis Fuller. As a professional, he has performed with such musical luminaries as Marcus Belgrave, John Hollenbeck, Tim Ries, Sean Dobbins, Vincent York, Tad Weed, Ellen Rowe, Andrew Bishop, Dwight Adams, Thaddeus Dixon and Vincent Chandler. Following in the footsteps of many other young Ann Arbor musicians, he gained a love of jazz at Community High School (under the direction of Mike Grace), honed his musical skills and taste with world class saxophonist Vincent York, and then attended the University of Michigan Jazz Studies Program in order to absorb the teachings of master musicians such as Robert Hurst and Geri Allen.
Travis Aukerman is a drummer, percussionist, composer, and arranger based in Toledo, OH. He has studied drum set and percussion under Dr. Olman Piedra and Jonathan Ovalle, as well as composition and arranging with Tad Weed. In May of 2015, he graduated magna cum laude from the University of Toledo with a Bachelors in Music Performance (jazz concentration). During his time at UT, Travis performed with numerous school ensembles including; the UT Latin Jazz Ensemble, UT Jazz Ensemble, UT Percussion Ensemble, UT Wind Ensemble, and Jazz combos. He has also shared the stage with distinguished musicians including Jon Hendricks, Gilad Atzmon, Clifford Murphy, Jeff Halsey, Vic Juris, and David Bixler. He performs regularly with the Estar Cohen Project, Talking Ear, Dragon Wagon, Stonehouse, and many local groups around the Greater Toledo area. His playing can be heard on the Estar Cohen Project's debut album entitled Waiting for Dawn. During his time at UT, Travis received a strong musical foundation in Jazz and Classical percussion as well as exposure to music and culture from the Caribbean Islands, South America, Northern India, and West Africa. He furthered these studies while away from school last summer when he traveled to New York City to study with acclaimed drummer Henry Cole. In 2013, Travis was one of two recipients of the Deans Award from the College of Communication and the Arts for his outstanding achievements in composition and performance. That same year, Travis received the Bernard Sanchez Scholarship, which awards students for excellence in musical performance. He is currently endorsed by Bosphorus Cymbals, based in Istanbul, Turkey.