The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News


This poll has ended.

Do you treat student evaluations seriously?


Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.

Loading Recent Classifieds...

Childhood passion turned to college performance

Jason Farias, a senior, keeps time for the Blue Note Sextet at the jazz combo performance night. (T.J. Seputis)

Jazz is a whole lot more than just a genre of music. To many, it’s a valuable means of connection and self expression.

“I feel like I’m the best version of myself when I am playing my trumpet and listening to other people play and interacting with them,” said Nathan Bell, a sophomore trumpeter majoring in music performance with a concentration in jazz studies.

Bell finds that music is a powerful way to discover a shared understanding with people, regardless of the difference that they may share.

“We all come from different places, and we all have different experiences, but, the one thing that connects us is that we can sit down and have a gig or a jam session,” Bell said. “The music talks.”

Bell has been playing the trumpet since fifth grade. He started nearly ten years ago and has no plans of stopping.

“Just always continuing to improve not only my knowledge of the instrument, but my ability as well,” Bell said.

He has focused his efforts on jazz because he appreciates the creative freedom that it offers. Specifically, he likes to be able to take a specific jazz tune and play it in a different sub genre than that in which it was written.

“The ability to take something and make it my own is kind of what led me to enjoy and perform jazz music more than classical music,” Bell said.

Bell’s inspiration comes from many different musicians, but at the forefront is Wynton Marsalis, a well known trumpeter. During his time in the practice room, Bell enjoys studying the work and progression of Marsalis’ trumpet playing.

“If I want to strive for any type of trumpet playing, I’m striving to play like he does,” Bell said.

One day, Bell hopes to have the opportunity to perform for Marsalis.

To Jason Farias, a senior history teacher education major that plays the drums, music is an avenue of communication that does not involve traditional verbal expression. “Music for me is an outlet,” Farias said. “Music is one of the few times I get to express myself, that isn’t just in words, that’s not just in writing. The connection and the community that comes with making music is what motivates me.”

He started playing the drums in fourth grade and later picked up piano during highschool. While he is passionate about it now, Farias was not always into jazz.

“I don’t really know what I was into,” Farias said. “I think I didn’t have a lot of direction, because I didn’t really have lessons or anything,” Farias said regarding his early days playing the drums.

He established an appreciation for jazz music during his time participating in his highschool’s jazz program.

“It’s really exciting music,” Farias said. “Jazz has a great history, and great tradition.”

Bell and Farias both appeared at Tuesday’s evening at the EIU jazz combo performance night, when the Birdland Quartet and the Blue Note Sextet performed in Dounda’s Dvorak performance hall. Each combo played four tunes. The music selection was varied and gave listeners a taste of multiple different substyles within the genre of jazz. Both combos only had several weeks to prepare the setlist for this concert.

Jazz combos are different from a traditional “big band” both in size, and form.

There is typically one person per instrument. This enables jazz combos to be a unique experience for the musicians and the audience.

“There’s much more fluidity of the structure, and more freedoms you can take with the structure of the music,” Farias said.

A key element of jazz combos is a heavy emphasis on improvisation. Also known as soloing, improvisation is when a musician takes creative liberty to produce their own melody on the spot, within the confines of an existing chord progression.

During each tune at Tuesday’s performance, the musicians took turns improvising, and it was during these solos that the energy emanating from them became apparent. There was a mix of smiles, grimaces and expressions of deep concentration evident on their faces.

Eastern’s Birdland Quartet is currently composed of Nathan Bell on trumpet, Jacob Ramage on guitar, Evan Irvin on bass and Alex Drews on drums. The Jazz Sextet is currently composed of August Frisby on saxophone, Daniel Torres on trombone, Seth Harshman on guitar, Vance Bollinger on piano, Race Brighton on bass and Jason Farias on drums.

In addition to the jazz combos, the EIU Jazz Program also offers two big band groups; the Jazz Lab Band and the Jazz Ensemble. Auditions for the various jazz groups are in the fall.


T.J. Seputis can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

Commenting on the Daily Eastern News web site is a privilege, not a right. We reserve the right to remove comments that contain obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language. Also, comments containing personal attacks or threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
All The Daily Eastern News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest