Student musicians show off their talent at CSU Jazz Combos concert

By Alana Whelan

Oct. 30, 2018

Musicians at Cleveland State University practice tirelessly each week, not only to ensure their performances are top-notch, but because they thoroughly enjoy the songs they get to play, notes trumpet player, John McAvenue.

The Jazz Combos held its first concert Monday, Oct. 15, in Waetjen Auditorium, featuring undergraduate to graduate music students.

Two sets, the first directed by Joe Miller, jazz trumpet instructor at Cleveland State, and the second by Alfredo Guerrieri, electric bass instructor at Cleveland State, displayed a wide range of jazz selections.

The first set consisted of seven musicians and the second set consisted of 12 musicians, some of whom played in both.

The students themselves chose many of the featured pieces, and the instructors also chose a few.. McAvenue had his own opinions about some of the pieces they played and described reasons the group chose them.

“Thelonious Monk is probably one of my favorite composers, so the fact that we got to play two of his tunes brings warmth to my heart,” McAvenue said. “’In Walked Bud’ is just a classic tune of his,” McAvenue said. “And ‘Straight No Chaser’ is so famous and so popular that a vocal choral group was named after it.”

Joe Kardos, a saxophonist who played in both sets, explained why the instructors made some of their choices.

“The instructors will pick tunes that we all should know as jazz musicians because it’s almost like – it’s like eating your vegetables – like there are some tunes that you should know no matter what,” Kardos said.

In addition to being interested in the songs they played, the placing of chairs on the stage for the audience to sit in helped to make the concert go as well as it did, McAvenue said.

“It was more of an intimate feel,” he explained. “We got to see everyone’s expressions and reactions to the music.”

Though McAvenue and Kardos both felt the show went well, and according to McAvenue, “I knew it was going to be good, but I think that what we brought to the table -- what we displayed on stage was incredible – “ they both said they believe that there is always room for improvement.

“Obviously when we play a show like this you always find ways to make it better – you always want to make the next show better than the last one,” Kardos said. “So, we’ll go back to rehearsal on Wednesday and figure out what we can do to make things more exciting, but we think, you know, this is what we work for – these are like our tests, our exams, so it’s fun to show off and show everybody what we have.”

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