Jazz combos bring classic melodies

Debby Hernandez, Staff Reporter

The night began with a melody from the vibraphone, followed by the trumpet, which gave way to the steady tone of “Take the A Train,” a classic jazz song by Billy Strayhorn.

The EIU Jazz Combos included a vanguard sextet, a Birdland quintet, and a blue note quintet.

Students and faculty from the music department performed Thursday night in the Black Box Theatre in the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

Jamie Ryan, an assistant professor of percussion, said the Birdland quintet played a challenging performance.

“We wanted to play something hard enough to be challenging but not hard enough to not be able to pull it off,” he said. “All of them are very talented. They put together three hard tones.”

The program opened with the vanguard sextet, composed of brass instrument players, drums and bass.

Joanna Stauder played a steady beat on the vibraphone and was later joined by the brass group. Michael Eckardt, a trumpet player, followed the group with a steady tone.

Then a saxophone solo by Rose Cloud and a trombone solo by Jacob Hardy gave way to a gradual ending to “Take the A Train.”

Bass player Maggie Thomas and drummer Michael Amos kept a consistently slow, smooth background beat.

The sextet, coached by Paul Johnston, the associate professor of jazz studies and piano, continued to play steadily with songs such as “Yearnin” and “Cantaloupe Island.”

The concert continued with the Birdland quintet playing songs such as “When it Rains,” “Tickle Toe” and “Strasbourg/ St. Denis.”

Pianist Lucas Fain began with a solemn melody followed by drummer and coach Jamie Ryan.

The two were joined by bass player Julia Ford, tenor saxophone player David Perez, trumpet player Noah Chubb, and violinist James Calderon, playing a different tone during the song, ‘When it Rains.”

Their next song, “Tickle Toe,” was upbeat and played dominantly by the violin, a non-common instrument for jazz.

David Perez, a senior jazz performance major, said his goal was to “speak in my own voice musically.”

Willie Morris, a freshman music education major, said playing jazz was his challenge.

“The music that we played was a lot different than anything I played before,” he said.

The blue note quintet performance was dominant with saxophones, beginning with “Free-fit-fo-fun,” which included a piano, bass and drums background played by Tyler Seawood, Nick Tucker, the coach and freelance musician, and Lucas Fain.

The alto saxophone, played by Bryan Chesi, worked along with the tenor saxophone played by Willie Morris. Both saxophones played high and low notes, varying in scale.

The group continued with “Black Nile,” and “Witch Hunt.”

Professor Nick Tucker said the goal was to put on an interesting concert while learning something new.


Debby Hernandez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].