Jazz band members perform in spring concert

Alexander Dinh, Layout Assistant and Staff Writer

Students performed in small groups at the Jazz Combo Concert in Rugby Theater on Feb. 25 and 26. The combos,drawn from Jazz Band, Studio Jazz, Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Rhythm Section,performed with direction from Jazz Directors Chris Sullivan and Matthew Yeakley.

Jazz Band performed songs including Dolphin Shoals from Mario Kart 8 and Naima by John Coltrane.

Saxophonist and Jazz Band member Eric Vartany ’24 said playing in front of his peers was calming despite the concert’s liveliness.

“It was stressful to play in front of an audience, but it’s very fun once you’re up on stage, and you can feel the music running through your veins,” Vartany said. “Then you hear the crowd cheering for you, and it’s very relaxing, despite it being so energetic.”

Sullivan said he enjoys seeing his students’ hardwork come to fruition in concerts.

“These are, in many cases, life-changing performances or moments in time, and I have a bird’s eye view of that,” Sullivan said. “It’s very gratifying for me to see all their hard work pay off and get to play in front of an extremely supportive audience.”

Sullivan said he appreciates passing down his love of music to his students and helping them grow as musicians.

“It’s gratifying to share this passion that I developed when I was in high school and see this process unfold with my current students,” Sullivan said. “It’s great to show them recordings and repertoire and then have them cling on to it, go into the room next door and start working on it.”

Bassist Manos Vourgourakis ’25 said performing in a smaller group allowed him to have a more dynamic concert.

“You really get to showcase your ability a lot more in the combo concert, and it was just a fun environment to have all my friends there and do what we love,” Vourgourakis said. “There are people in Jazz who are really good, and they are people who just started, and we’re all great friends.”

Vourgourakis said he enjoys improvising with his friends on stage and appreciates the creativity they share.

“Especially if you’re in a group with people you know well and you like playing with, you can go off of each other and react to what’s happening,” Vourgourakis said. “It’s just always new, so although you’re playing the same songs, the experience is always a little bit different because of the improvisation.”

George Ma ’25 attended the concert and said he wants to attend another in the future.

“It was so emotional,” Ma said. “I wanted to cry, and it made me happy. It was an incredible concert, and I’d love to go again. The build-up to the Jazz band at the end was spectacular.”

Studio Jazz Band and Jazz Band will perform in Italy during a ten-day trip from March 25 to April 3. Sullivan said overseas trips like these allow the musicians to grow closer and helps them on stage.

“Little things like being in the hotel, long bus rides and going out to these big group dinners really unite a group,” Sullivan said. “That unity translates to the stage and to the rehearsal space. When you have a group that gets along with each other, they also play well together.”