The UM Jazz Combos brought attendees back to the 1920s jazz era when they performed for a crowd at Proud Larry’s on Tuesday night. The performance marked the fourth year of the Jazz Combos performing at Proud Larry’s.
The lineup for the night included the Lunch Date Septet, the No. 1 Combo and the Faculty Jazz Quintet. The Septet, ironically made up of six members as opposed to seven as the name suggests, along with the No. 1 Combo are completely student-led groups. The Septet typically performs in more formal settings such as the Nutt Auditorium and the Ford Center.
“The best part of playing in a place like this is the atmosphere,” Septet member Tyler Hewett said. “It’s alive, people aren’t quiet, they’re listening, they’re more active.”
The Lunch Date Septet took the stage in all black attire and performed various works including Duke Ellington’s “Satin Dolls,” and Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas.”
As the music started, graduate assistant Courtney Wells explained the importance of student-led, independent work. She emphasized that performances like this help students to hoan in on their improvisation and performance skills along with gaining a better understanding of what it means to have your own “gig.”
Quayshun Shumpert, a senior trombone player in the No. 1 Combo, which features six members, is familiar with the Proud Larry’s stage. As a member of the No. 1 Combo for four years, Shumpert has been able to enjoy the “chill” environment on a number of occasions.
The third member of the UM Jazz Combos is the Faculty Ensemble. Music theory professor and jazz guitar player John Latartara is one of five faculty members in the ensemble who play at two to three events a year.
“Playing at Proud Larry’s is great because it provides more of an atmosphere than if you were just in a music hall,” Latartara said.
Their set at Proud Larry’s included the works “Stolen Moments,” “Tough Talk” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” Latartara is joined in the ensemble by Michael Worthy, director of both the Jazz Mississippians ensemble and student ensembles.
As Wells explained, during solos within a piece the musician is improvising, listening to rhythms, beats and musical cues produced by other members of the group.
Unbeknownst to the common listener, precision, knowledge and hours upon hours of practice lead to the beautifully smooth melody that moved through the air in Proud Larry’s on Tuesday night.
Hewett closed the Lunch Date Septet’s performance with a solo bit leading to an eruption of applause in the space.
“The best part of any performance is when you play the last note, and it’s a little quiet, and you have that two seconds before everyone starts clapping. It’s the best feeling in the world,” Hewett said.