Jazz artists play creative show

By Carl Nadig

Local jazz musicians commemorated Sycamore High School Music Hall of Fame inductees at the sixth annual Classical and Jazz Gala: A Note to Remember, Saturday at the Blumen Gardens, 403 Edward St. in Sycamore.

The special occasion featured performances from ensembles from Sycamore High School, including the Jazz Choir, the String Quartet, the Jazz Combo and the High School Jazz Band, led by Music Department Chair Scott Mertens.

The music of Sycamore High School and the Jim Kanas Trio showcased local talents and inducted Pete Benson, Kara Eubanks and Lori McMillion Grant into the Sycamore High School Music Hall of Fame.

Jazz guitarist Jim Kanas and the Jim Kanas Trio performed an assortment of colorful renditions.

It didn’t take long to see the trio’s virtuosity and proficiency. Whether it was dabbling with contemporary interpretations of Nat King Cole or Louis Armstrong, the group created fresh improvisation sessions while evoking the roots of the artists’ tunes.

Classifying the Jim Kanas Trio as one genre would be a simplistic label to the group’s expertise. During moments of improvisation, the trio moved between styles, playing electronic folk progressions before moving into swing and bluegrass scales.

Whereas the Jim Kanas Trio played a multicolor spectrum of jazz, the Jazz In Progress group perpetuated its love for known music. Without introductions from conductor Dave Lehman, members of Jazz In Progress immediately began playing. The keyboardist tinkered with some scales, and the horn section strolled independently from the bassist.

There wasn’t a dull moment during Jazz In Progress’ performance. From the blaring horn section to the striding keyboardist, the ensemble’s boisterous sound was sensational during renditions of “A Day in the Life of a Fool,” “Makin’ Whoopee” and “Sweet Home Chicago.”

The group members’ zeal and genuine love of their craft makes Jazz in Progress a gem to local jazz.