Thursday marks last jazz combo performance this spring


Rob Le Cates

August Frisby, a sophomore music performance major, plays “All These People” in the Blue Note Quintet during the final Jazz Combos performance of the spring semester Thursday night at The Theatre in Doudna. Frisby played both the alto and baritone saxophone during the performance.

Ryan Meyer, Multimedia Reporter

The Birdland and Blue Note quintets changed their scenery for the last jazz combo performances of the semester Thursday evening, taking the stage of the theater to perform both jazz standards and unique pieces. 

The Birdland quintet opened the evening with a four-song set, two of which were composed by J.J. Johnson and another arranged by him.  

Savanna Wooten, a junior music education major, played the trombone for the Birdland group and thought the performances went well. 

“I thought it went great,” Wooten said. “I think both groups did really good. I think we had a really wide variety of tunes which was really fun, like more classic tune, then very modern tunes, obviously. I just thought it was a really good collection of jazz tonight.” 

The very modern tune Wooten is referring to is a piece that closed the Blue Note quintet’s set, “All These People,” by electrojazz band Sungazer, a band featuring the YouTuber Adam Neely.  

Blue Note drummer Andrew Powell transcribed the piece for the rest of the band, and Kyle Huddleston, a graduate student studying jazz performance and Blue Note’s tenor saxophonist, said it took a bit for the band to sort out the piece. 

“I was a little nervous going into it, especially with that last track,” Huddleston said. “That’s one that requires a lot of focus, and we’d run into some bumps in the road with working on it before the concert tonight, but I felt like it went really well tonight. I was really excited. Very happy with how it went. Both groups played phenomenally tonight.”  

Paul Johnston, a jazz studies professor and the coach of both quintets, described the work Powell put into presenting the music to the rest of the band.  

“It’s something a little different,” Johnston said. “Andrew Powell, our drummer, spent a lot of time transcribing that and kind of poured himself into that project, so it was a fun challenge for us.” 

Jeffrey Johnson, a freshman music education major, said “All These People” was his favorite song of the night, and noted August Frisby’s ability to switch saxophone mid-song. 

“I liked that one of the players was able to go from one saxophone to the other, just naturally play like that, and it all felt in sync,” Johnson said.  

Johnston said that he’s enjoyed the past year with the combo bands.  

“It’s been great to hear the groups develop and hear everyone improve every year,” Johnston said. “That’s what we want as teachers, so it’s fun to be a part of that and fun to see that happen.” 

Development has been the key for the combo groups. Huddleston also said he’s enjoyed working alongside his fellow musicians and bandmates and playing a wide variety of music.  

“We ended up playing some really good music,” Huddleston said. “Some challenging stuff. I mean, we did do standard stuff, but even with standard stuff, we still managed to do our own little twist and interpretation on it. Got to bring in some different stuff, played some dope music. I felt like (we) had some really nice solos, we had some really nice musical moments throughout this whole school year.”


Ryan Meyer can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].