Jazz Combo performs Thursday at Doudna


Tyanna Daniels

Tenor saxophone player, Kyle Huddleston, a graduate student studying music, plays in the Johnston Quintet at the Jazz Combos performance Thursday, Oct. 21, in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Black Box Theatre.

Ethan Schobernd, Campus Reporter

Eastern’s Jazz Combo played two sets featuring songs from artists like John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins in their performance at Doudna’s Black Box Theatre Thursday night. 

The performance consisted of two combo groups, the Gonçalves Quartet and the Johnston Quintet. 

The groups played seven songs in total and within those songs, each performer played a series of improvisations in each of the sets and received applause after each solo section. 

The Gonçalves Quartet included Austin Spillman on alto saxophone, Jacob Ramage on guitar, Ian Palacios on the bass, and Paul Nau on drums. 

The first set, performed by the Gonçalves Quartet, started with the rhythmic “Mr. Day” by John Coltrane. 

The second song was called “Hymn” by Braxton Cook. The song contrasted “Mr. Day” with its slower, more lyrical style.  

The group’s final song was “So Nice,” also known as “Summer Samba”, written by Marcos Valle. The piece, with its lighter style of playing, used more chromaticism as played by Austin Spillman, a music education and music performance major. 

Guitarist Jacob Ramage, a sophomore majoring in composition and music performance, commented on the jazz combo’s performance. 

“I thought it went pretty well,” Ramage said. “We worked really hard, both groups did, and we played our best and I think we put on a good show.” 

Ramage also talked about how it felt to perform for a live audience this year, as compared to the livestreamed audiences the previous academic year. 

“It feels really nice,” Ramage said. “You know, since I’ve been at Eastern, this and the last performance, we had the jazz showcase, were the only live performances that I’ve performed at. So, it’s a different experience compared to what it was like livestreamed. I really like seeing people’s faces and knowing that people want to come out and see us perform and listen to jazz.” 

The Johnston Quintet consists of August Frisby and Kyle Huddleston on saxophone, Addie Gladu on piano, Jacob Pope on bass, and Andrew Powell on drums. 

The group started with a song called “Bye Bye Blackbird” by Ray Henderson and Morton Dixon, followed by three more classic pieces called “There is No Greater Love” by Isham Jones and Marty Symes, “My Funny Valentine” by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, and “Oleo” by Sonny Rollins.  

August Frisby, a sophomore music performance major, performed on a series of saxophones including alto, tenor, and baritone. 

The drummer of the Johnston Quintet, Andrew Powell, a sophomore audio recording technology major, said the performance wasn’t just about the group, but it was about the audience as well. 

“I think, see it doesn’t matter how well I did, it matters how well the audience felt,” Powell said. “And I think what we did tonight portrayed that feeling of wanting to perform for everybody and give the best for everybody out there in the audience.” 

Powell said he felt nervous about performing in person since the pandemic. 

“Man, I gotta be honest, it’s nerve-racking. When I was outside waiting for me to come, I was shaking. And whenever I was done, my knees were like gelatin. It was nuts, I was shaking the entire time.” 

From an audience perspective, Luke Noble, a fourth-year music performance major, enjoyed the performance. 

“That was really good; that was spectacular,” said Noble. “Just getting to hear all the great musicians, just seeing them in their element, you know, grooving out there. It was just fantastic. And you could all see that they were just living in the moment.” 

Noble also talked about how much nicer it is to see performances live once more. 

“Oh my gosh it’s so much nicer,” Noble said. “Instead of, you know, going home, watching the livestream happen or hoping you can get one of the few seats. Being able to be here in person, and you know just get to live the experience.” 

 Ethan Schobernd can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]