Faculty jazz ensemble debuts for the 2018-19 season

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The Faculty Jazz Concert series made its annual debut in the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 24. The debut consisted of saxophonist Mark O’Conner, trumpeter Jen Siukola, trombonist Ernest Stuart, bassist Brandon Meeks, drummer Kenny Phelps and pianist Steven Jones.

Photo by Krystal McBride

Pianist Steven Jones performed alongside fellow musicians during the faculty jazz ensemble debut.

Jones said that having the opportunity to perform with a group of his colleagues and combine each musician’s unique voices into a single unit was the most notable part of the experience. Another particularly special aspect of this ensemble, he said, was the “broad range of styles and talent” within the group. The musicians also have a camaraderie that Jones said he enjoys.

“Everybody has a unique voice and are really good people too,” Jones said. “Everybody’s fun to be around.”

An important part of being involved in a group like the ensemble is a certain level of preparation required from each group member. While Jones said that he did not do anything particularly special to prepare for this event, he explained that the familiarity of performing with his colleagues makes him perform better.

“We all play together all the time,” Jones said. “I’m here [about] three times a week, so I’m always in the mode to do a show.”

Photo by Tony Reeves.

Kenny Phelps played the drums for the duration of the performance, which featured six jazz musicians.

Jones also said that he hopes to gain more experience  and grow as a musician through his involvement in the concert series. Every faculty member who played in the show has a thorough background performing in various ensembles. Their experiences range from performing in jazz clubs and festivals to performing with orchestras.

A number of pieces included in the concert were performed, composed or arranged by members in the group. “Embers,” for example, was composed by Jones; the final piece, “Daisy’s Day,” was composed by Siukola; and “Bye, Bye Blackbird” was composed by Mort Dixon and arranged by Stuart.

The event was also intended to expand the musical tastes of a wide range of listeners. Students, staff, alumni and members of the community all came out to attend the event, which was open to the public.

One student, freshman exercise major Mikayla Whitaker, said she was glad she attended the concert because it gave her the chance to listen to a style of music she is not normally be exposed to.

“I like the different kinds of music. I got to see different things that I wouldn’t normally have went to,” Whitaker said.

The next event in the Faculty Artist Concert Series will be Beethoven to Berners on Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m.  The concert will feature work from John Berners, Toru Takemitsu, Wolfgang Plagge and Ludwig van Beethoven.

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