Music department student ensembles rock the house


J’Mari HughesReporter

Southern’s Music Department hosted its annual jazz ensemble performance in the Charles Garner Recital Hall of Engleman Hall. Members wore all black and were divided into jazz standards, blues and Latin jazz ensembles.

“It gives us an opportunity to show our talents and show people what we’ve been studying throughout the semester,” said senior and music major Holly Izzo. “It’s fun that we get to meet great people and we get to make experiences playing music live and with others.”

Izzo said on certain days, she feels scared and shaky, but during that performance she had a good time and did not feel nervous at all.

“Once you get on stage and actually have a chance to perform you see how hard everybody really worked,” said Princess Brown, a sophomore. “We all put effort in and see how beautiful it ends up becoming.”

Brown, a music major, sang solo, as well as alongside Izzo to songs like “My Handy Man” by Andy Razaf and Eunice Blake, and “I’m Shakin’” by Little Willie John.

“I love that I get to sing all the time,” Brown said. “I love the energy; I love how everyone’s so supportive towards each other all the time.”

Izzo said the bands have been rehearsing since the start of the semester. One vocalist, Gleeson Edwards, gained recognition for filling in for an absentee and learning a song in only one rehearsal.

Izzo said that while preparing for the shows the bands gathered in their classes that meet twice a week and ran through their music two to three times. Rehearsal, she said, is her favorite part.

“We have so much fun; we always joke around with each other,” said Izzo.“We’re always having a good time and just jamming out. It’s so fun.”

Rafael Ramos, a senior, who has been playing at music concerts since his freshman year, said to prepare for concerts they listen to each song slowly before going through them to determine how exactly the song should be played. He said the feeling before performing is nerve-wracking, but once he starts playing the anxiety goes away.

“You just feel natural up there,” he said. “At first you’re super anxious but after you start it’s like, ‘This is what I do.’”

Instruments included, but were not limited to, guitar, bass, saxophone and the unique and rare contrabass flute- which stood nearly as tall as Lincy Valeta, a high school student who plays the rare instrument with Southern’s Latin Jazz Ensemble.

“We’re really trying to be a music community,” said Will Cleary, director of Latin jazz. “I hope [people] see that this is an opportunity not only for people outside of Southern, but for students of Southern.”

Cleary said he hopes to expand the musical genres featured at the music department’s concerts. Latin jazz is played every semester, but he said he would like to try New Orleans funk, R&B, and hip-hop. One song the ensemble played was “Mamacita” by Joe Henderson, which Cleary said was originally a blues progression, but was played in an Afro-Cuban style.

“It’s like a fusion of fusions,” Cleary said. “It’s really complex and we’re looking at the different cultural aspects.”

Brown said she enjoys jazz music, but blues is her favorite because of its history, beat, and soulfulness. When she gets on stage, she said she feels like she is where she needs to be.

“It’s just a beautiful, overwhelming feeling. I’m enjoying myself and really having fun,” she said. “As a band, we’re all at different levels as artists, but it’s nice how we can really come together and be dedicated to doing good and growing as performers.”

Cleary said the band students are passionate, fun to work with and dedicated to their work.

“I’ve met really talented players that almost seem like they’re tired of music,” he said. “They absorb so much and very quickly and seem very sincere about putting everything into it.”

Photo Credit: J’Mari Hughes

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