Central Jazz Combo Brings Back The Good Old Times

Gabriel Anton, Staff Writer

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A very underrated and satisfying way to end your long week of preparing for exams, finishing up final projects, or just pulling through until the summer comes, is sitting down at a jazz concert and letting the smooth ebbs and flows of the music make you forget about it all for a few hours.

On Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Welte Auditorium, a handful of very talented musicians coordinated a jazz combos concert and played some classic tunes from early 1940’s to early 70’s songwriters and composers. Friends and family came together to watch and support the Central Connecticut performers in what felt like a relaxing night at a Jazz club with sounds ranging from a trumpet, to a piano, to drums. The music was equally fast and lively as it was slow and smooth. After rehearsing all semester twice a week, the concert truly paid off, pleasing everyone involved in a satisfying way.

The song arrangements were performed by two different groups, each comprised of about six to ten auditioned musicians majoring in a variety of subjects. The first group was called “Central Station” and played the fist set and were followed by “Grand Central” which played the second set.

These ensembles each had a section for the main melody and solo performances that included a variety of horns like the trombone, trumpet and tenor and baritone saxophones. This went hand in hand with what is called the “rhythm section” that has the piano, bass, drums and guitar and hold a steady tone and tempo in the background while occasionally getting solos of their own. This is why the term “combo” best describes this concert.

Throughout each of the 28 rehearsals, these musicians had some freedom with selecting the pieces they would perform. As Director Tom Melito describes it, “I choose the pieces by how well of a take we get on each one and which ones they seem to like the most based on the feels and the grooves of the music…I think the fact that they had so much fun was the best thing about today’s concert. They seemed to enjoy this one more than pervious ones.” In every performance, this is always one of the most crucial things to measure.”

It’s always important, however, that each musician has enough experience and passion for their craft in order to achieve such an atmosphere in the performance. Junior tenor saxophonist Johnny Melville, who was a soloist addition to “Grand Central,” has been playing since he was in fifth grade, taking it seriously for the past three years.

“My first year of college I was on YouTube and a music video with a saxophonist playing gospel music caught my attention and I heard him play and from then on I wanted to emulate that sound as best I could.” This focus spring boarded him into taking his first Jazz class here at Central, where he showed off his incredible solo jazz skills during the concert.

Pianist Chris Cianciolo and guitarist Alec Driezwicki were both essential parts of the “rhythm section” of the Thursday’s ensemble, staying on the stage throughout the entire concert as the soloists traded off between pieces. Cianciolo has been playing piano for 13 years, but he has a certain passion for guitar that he has been playing for about the same amount of time.

Driezwicki has had three years of guitar experience and agrees that it is also his favorite instrument. They both have been passionate with music since they were very young, transitioning between various instruments.

Both musicians enjoyed their first Jazz Combo concert on Thursday describing it as a pleasurable and fun time. “My favorite moment was when everyone was trading solos and had their moment in the groove of the song.” Cianciolo reveals. They both had the opportunity to play all of the pieces in Thursday’s performance since they were in the rhythm section, citing “There Will Never Be Another You,” a song created by prolific composer Harry Warren in 1942 for the musical “Iceland,” and “Lucky Southern,” a song from the 1972 album “Free” by Brazilian jazz drummer and percussionist Arito Moreira as stand-out pieces from the concert.

All in all, each musician and coordinator seemed very happy with the concert as well as the audience that clapped after every solo and gave a rousing ovation at the end of it all. As talented as the musicians were, perfection is something they always work towards as they continue to improve each semester. If you are interested in jazz or want to attend a relaxing and enjoyable event, be on the lookout for the next Jazz Combo concert next semester.