A sound that is original, exploratory, and all their own.
— Toledo.com

Talking Ear is a four-piece progressive music ensemble based out of the Midwest, committed to providing a unique experience for listeners through composition, collaboration, and improvisation. The band consists of guitarist Daniel Palmer, pianist Benjamin Maloney, bassist Aidan Cafferty, and drummer Travis Aukerman. Each musician has a distinct voice as an accomplished composer and performer, contributing to an exciting and versatile, yet particularly cohesive sound.



Daniel Palmer is an active guitarist, composer, and educator based in southern Michigan. He performs throughout the Midwest in a wide variety of settings, including Jazz, Classical, Improvised Music, Celtic, acoustic fingerstyle, Folk, Rock, and other various genres. Dan is currently performing throughout the Midwest with the progressive jazz ensemble, Talking Ear, Jazz/Folk group Estar Cohen Project, and the Celtic/world fusion group, Nessa, in addition to numerous freelance gigs. He is endorsed by Godin Guitars and Cusack Music. Dan holds a B.A. in Music Performance from Albion College, as well as an M.M. from the University of Toledo. He has studied with Charles Tomlin, Jeff Haas, Larry Williams, Jay Rinsen Weik, Michael Gulezian, Gunnar Mossblad, Tad Weed, Bobby Streng, and Mike Pelham. Dan is currently a professor of music at Albion College and Hillsdale College, located in southern Michigan.

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 led Ben to explore improvisation and Jazz. He developed his craft within the University of Toledo Music Department, graduating with a Bachelors degree in music performance with a Jazz concentration. During his time at UT, Ben had the 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. Ben is active in the Greater Toledo and Columbus music scenes as both 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. 


Aidan Cafferty is a bassist/composer based in Ann Arbor, MI. His passion for improvised music began at a young age, as he attended Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, a nationally recognized music department, where he played double bass in the Symphony Orchestra, the Symphony Band and the Jazz Band. During Aidan’s senior year, Pioneer won the National GRAMMY Signature School Award as the best high school music department in the country.

Aidan continued to pursue his love for jazz at Michigan State University’s School of Music, where he spent four years studying under Rodney Whitaker. He received his bachelor’s degree jazz performance in 2015 and is currently attaining his master's degree at University of Michigan where he studies with Bob Hurst and Andrew Bishop.

Travis Aukerman is a drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger and educator based in Ypsilanti, MI. He has spent the majority of his life pursuing a passion for drums and music, which has led to a diverse and fulfilling career as a sideman and bandleader.

Highlights include sharing the stage with distinguished musicians including Bill Carrothers, Jon Hendricks, Tad Weed, Gilad Atzmon, Clifford Murphy, Jeff Halsey, Vic Juris, and David Bixler, while also performing at notable venues and festivals around the US including Newport Jazz Festival, Columbus Jazz and Ribs Festival, Harvest Gathering Music Festival, Hoxeyville Music Festival, Wrigley Field (Chicago), Rockwood Music Hall (NYC), Merrimans' Playhouse (South Bend), Blue LLama Jazz Club (Ann Arbor), and many more.

He performs regularly with Talking Ear, Estar Cohen, Galen Bundy's Project 206, Ben Maloney Trio, and Patrick Booth, while also freelancing with a wide array of artists from around the US including Rachel Mazer (Los Angeles), Madelyn Grant (Detroit), Waves De Ache (Columbus), Jake Allen (Northern Michigan), and more. His playing can be heard on Talking Ear's 2019 EP On Creating, Patrick Booth's 2018 album Stillness, Estar Cohen's most recent single "Only Once" feat. the Red Shoe Company String Quartet, and the Jake Allen Band's live performance of "Lascivious," from Jake's 2018 album Deviant Motions.

Travis is currently endorsed by Bosphorus cymbals based in Istanbul, Turkey.


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