Eastern Jazz Ensemble performs final, ‘best’ performance


Ashanti Thomas

August Frisby, a music performance major and alto saxophone player, performs a solo during the Jazz Ensemble performance on Tuesday night in Doudna Fine Arts Center.

Ryan Meyer, Multimedia Reporter

The members of Eastern’s Jazz Ensemble took the stage for the final time this school year, performing 10 songs to the theatre audience.  

Two of the songs the 16-musician band performed toward the end of the set, “Breathing” and “A Little Peace,” were arranged by David Springfield, and they were played in the memory of David Tanner, who has a fund named after him dedicated to Jazz Studies students in good academic standing. 

The director of both the ensemble and the jazz studies program Sam Fagaly told the audience those two songs were chosen to provide a breather and as a longing for peace, noting the conflict in Europe. 

Jazz studies professor and ensemble pianist Paul Johnston bridged the two pieces with a delicate piano solo.  

The ensemble also performed “Norwegian Wood,” a Beatles composition from “Rubber Soul” that featured solos by Savanna Wooten on trombone and August Frisby on alto saxophone. 

Kyle Huddleston, a graduate student studying jazz performance, said that he felt this performance was among the best of the year for the group. 

“Some of those pieces, I felt like that was the best we’d ever performed,” Huddleston said. “And we’ve been working on a lot of those for a bit. We’ve had the music for a while, but that run-through definitely felt like one of the best performances we’ve had in general this whole year probably.”  

Huddleston also said the group has been implementing things that they weren’t at the beginning of the school year.  

“It’s just been a fun year,” Huddleston said. “We’ve been playing some really cool music, I just feel like each and every concert as we’ve gone through the semester, we’ve learned to play together as an ensemble a lot better. And we were able to pull off some really nice different textures and colors and do some different shaping with stuff.” 

Seeing the pieces take shape in the ensemble arrangements is something Johnston enjoys, he said.  

“It’s fun to rehearse this stuff and see it take shape,” Johnston said. “I enjoy that process. So it’s really neat to hear it all come together.” 

One of Johnston’s favorite pieces of the evening was “Moon River,” written by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer and arranged by Billy Byers.  

“Billy Byers is one of my favorite arrangers, and I love that version of ‘Moon River,’ so that was a favorite of mine,” Johnston said. “I love how everyone has a chance to play the melody, I love the little call and responses between the brass and saxes. Just A+ arrangement.” 

David Whatcott, a freshman engineering major, played trumpet during Tuesday night’s performance and also said the group’s work had been building up to this concert. 

“It was a really fun rehearsal process and everything, putting it all together,” Whatcott said. “This is pretty much our whole semester’s work, and (it was) really fun to put it on.” 

Although it was the last performance of the semester, Whatcott said he was looking forward to meeting and getting closer with his bandmates.  

“Getting to know the same people even better, and then any new people that join, getting to know them too,” Whatcott said. 


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