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Jazz fans came out in high numbers to hear Jazz at the Station with the Weber State University Jazz Combo on Wednesday night.
“Jazz is not dead by any means,” said WSU Jazz Combo director Shannon Roberts during the performance.
Faculty, students and members of the community attended the free event, with approximately 175 guests total.
“It was a good turnout,” Roberts said, “more than usual.”
Audience members were encouraged to participate during the Dizzy Gillespie tune “Salt Peanuts,” shouting “salt peanuts!” to the group at points that were obvious during the song. The audience not only participated by singing along; some danced as well.
The WSU Jazz Combo performs at the Union Station once each semester. This semester’s group included David Bertram and Andrew Wood on trumpet, Casey Wood on piano, and Max Cox and Spencer Howe on bass. Tyler Torrico and Nicholas Meldrum played the drums, while Roberts joined in playing the trombone and the flute.
The audience listened to musical pieces like “Blue Monk,” in which Bertram and Roberts traded fours, with Bertram playing four bars on the trumpet, followed by Roberts on the trombone, alternating back and forth and building off of each other. Bertram and Wood both traded their trumpets for flugelhorns for Phil Urso’s “Lucius Lu.” Roberts even showed the audience how to beatbox with a flute.
Musical numbers performed included Denzil Best’s “Move for Miles,” George Gershwin’s “A Foggy Day” and Duke Ellington’s “Satin Doll.” The group has performed for different school functions as well as being hired out to perform.
The WSU Jazz Combo is a class offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the semester. Members are taught improvisational techniques, as well as how to shape the tune and play different styles.
“It’s historical,” Roberts said. “They learn tunes from the 1920s to the present.”
Members of the Jazz Combo all play within the larger Jazz Ensemble, and the group prepares members as featured soloists for the ensemble.
The group pianist, Casey Wood, a WSU senior studying choral education, taught himself the piano while serving as a missionary in Korea.
“I had a companion that would write letters at the church all day,” he said. “I would play the piano all day.”
Wood said that while his focus is choral education, he participates in the Jazz Combo for fun.
Drummer Nicholas Meldrum, a WSU freshman, said he was happy to be there and that jazz is his favorite music genre.
The next opportunity to see a jazz performance with the Jazz Ensemble will come on Nov. 20 at the Val A. Browning Center in the Allred Theater. Jazz at the Station is offered every second Wednesday of the month. Tickets are available at the Dee Events Center ticket office, by calling 801-626-7000, or through www.weberstatetickets.com. Tickets are $7 without a student identification card or $6 with one.