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Jazz ensemble to play free concert

jazz [1]One of the college’s largest ever student jazz ensembles will take the stage in a free concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, in the Bruce Owen Theater on campus.

Director Mark Giammario said the jazz group includes an electric bass, two guitars, electric piano, alto sax, trombone and vocals. Giammario will play bongos and drums in the group.

The ensemble is comprised of eight student performers. Among the songs they will perform are “Blue Skies” by Irving Berlin, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” by Duke Ellington, and “Love for Sale” by Cole Porter.

A flow of new students each year adds diversity and change to the group over time.

“Every semester is different,” Giammario explained. “Someone either leaves or joins each semester.”

Some members, however, have remained in the group for multiple semesters.

“This is one of the larger groups. There are a few veterans in the group,” Giammario said. “For some of the students, it’s their third semester to be playing in the band.”

The skill of improvisation—music created on the spot—is one of the things that Giammario focuses on while teaching his students, he said. In addition, he wants to help students improve their reading skills, listening skills, and their ability to play together as a team.

“Ensemble is a French word, meaning ‘together’,” Giammario explained. Togetherness is certainly a key to this band’s functioning.

Hearing improvement in the students‘ playing, as well as their ability to play well together, is one of his favorite parts of the concert, he said.

In preparation for the concert, the musicians have been working hard during practices as well as practicing their parts at home. “Hopefully,” Giammario said, joking.

“Students who take this class come away with a better understanding of this American music we call jazz,” he said. “This music was born and raised in the United States.”

The musicians are Ben Matyjacek, drums; Zach Lebo, bass; Collin Crull, keyboard; Richard Campos and Jared Bross, guitar; Tristan Ryker, trombone; Stan Hall, alto saxophone; and Jeff Dodgen, vocals.

For further information about the jazz ensemble or their upcoming concerts, email Giammario at mark.d.giammario@occc.edu.