Jazz Combo Fest rocked the House Cafe Wednesday

By Katie Finlon

Play a little jazz, hang out with some cool cats, learn something new about music.

The School of Music hosted a free Jazz Combo Fest at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at the House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway.

The event featured six combos, all part of the jazz combo classes MUSE 324 and 624, that played two songs each. The event was followed by a jam session led by Jacob Slocum’s Big RedTet.

Most of the students in these combos aren’t necessarily jazz majors, but all of them are music majors, said Ron Carter, coordinator of jazz studies.

“It’s really just to get the students started,” Carter said. “It’s for them to start learning tunes, improvisation, learn how to introduce themselves and how to be a combo.”

All of the combos don’t have names, but they are all numbered except for Rosebud, which is a graduate-level combo led by Carter. The name exists because of its sponsor and so the students can record music, said Ivan Arden, senior jazz performance major.

Arden said the performance is a whole different approach to jazz for music students.

“It’s basically like being in the classroom, learning how this group functions and what the roles of everybody in the group are,” Arden said. “The only way you get exposed to what it was like back when jazz was more part of the American culture. Now it is more part of the academic institution, not as much in everyday life.”

Andrew Norte, senior music education major, who used to play in Jazz Combo Fest, said the combos, for the most part, pick their own pieces to play, and that makes for a better playing and learning experience.

“It’s a very intimate setting,” Norte said. “You can really reach out with your music.”

There’s a transparency to a jazz combo, meaning there’s only one player per instrument, and everyone is expected to know his or her part very well as a result, Norte said. Arden agrees that it can contribute to on-stage nerves.

“Both of my teachers are here and it can make you nervous,” Arden said. “But it’s all fun and really enjoyable to do.”