Jazz groups put on free show at Doudna

Luis Martinez, Entertainment Editor

Members of the Eastern Jazz Ensemble perform a song during the Jazz Ensemble Concert on Sept. 25, 2014 in the Doudna Fine Arts Center.
File Photo
Members of the Eastern Jazz Ensemble perform a song during the Jazz Ensemble Concert on Sept. 25, 2014 in the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

Eastern’s jazz studies program will be giving its first live performance in a free concert at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in the Theatre of the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

The performance will feature five jazz groups including the jazz ensemble, jazz lab band, Vanguard Sextet, Birdland Sextet and the Blue Note Quintet.

Paul Johnston, a professor of jazz studies, directs the Eastern Jazz Lab Band group and said these performances are done to give students a variety of experiences. “Students have the opportunity to perform with the big band and more with combos,” Johnston said.

Johnston said the performance on Thursday will be like a preview into what the different jazz groups will be performing later on in the year.

“Jazz groups have often a roots section, piano, bass, guitar and drums,” Johnston said. “The big bands have five trumpets, four trombones and five saxophones, and the combo have various types of instruments.”

The five groups will perform 11 songs during the performance.

“These are all arrangements of compositions,” Johnston said. “The earliest one is maybe from 60 years ago and the latest one is from sometime in the past 10 years.”

While Johnston directs the Eastern Jazz Lab Band, Sam Fagaly, the director of jazz studies, is the one who directs the Eastern Jazz Ensemble.

“They’re similar groups,” Johnston said. “The folks in the jazz ensemble often have just a little more experience with playing in a jazz group band.”

Johnston said to determine who plays within the jazz ensemble they have auditions in the beginning of the semester.

“We have auditions at the beginning of the fall semester,” Johnston said. “Then we kind of place people in groups so that folks are playing with people with similar levels of experience.”

While there will be five jazz groups performing on Thursday night, Johnston said he does not want to confuse people on the total time of the performance.

“I don’t want people to think that there’s five groups performing, so it’s going to be a three-hour extravaganza,” Johnston said. “It’ll probably be an hour and 15 minutes.”

Johnston said Eastern’s jazz groups also perform in other venues besides Eastern.

“The groups are really active in the community, our students play in lots of event on campus and for the community,” Johnston said. “They also frequently play at high schools in the area and jazz festivals.”


Luis Martinez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]