Southeastern held a Jazz Combo on Thursday, Feb. 16 featuring the talents of Tyler Pertuit, Matthew Hawkins and Justin Albritton in celebration for the Bill Evans Event that took place this past weekend.
The Bill Evans Event is an annual jazz festival that Southeastern hosts in celebration of Bill Evans, a famous jazz musician and Southeastern alumnus. The event spanned from Wednesday, Feb. 15 to Saturday, Feb. 18 and hosted a variety of different performances by members of Southeastern. “Southeastern usually invites high school bands that come and play for the festival, and Southeastern’s jazz band also plays. This year we have a guest artist, Mike Esneault, who is a piano player. There’s always at least one guest artist who joins us for the festival,” said Hawkins, a performance major at Southeastern and member of Southeastern’s wind symphony and jazz ensemble.
Along with student performances and a special guest artist, the faculty members usually put on an ensemble of their own for the event. “The faculty combo will be playing this Friday for their own ensemble. The jazz combos always start on Thursday. The faculty alumni concert is what really kicks off the event on Wednesday. It’s pretty much the same formula that went on with tonight’s jazz combo, except it’s obviously more fleshed out,” said Pertuit, who is another performance major and member of the wind symphony and jazz ensemble at Southeastern.
The Jazz Combo consisted of a small set of performances from various jazz artists and was performed by Pertuit and Hawkins, who played percussion and upright bass respectively, along with Albritton, who is a graduate student at Southeastern and played trumpet for the combo.
“The performance tonight was actually really last minute and sort of thrown together, for lack of a better term,” said Hawkins. “The three of us don’t actually make up the official jazz combo. We’re a part of it, but it’s usually not just a trio. We actually got the info about tonight’s performance only a couple of days ago.”
With such short notice, preparation for the event took place in very short order. “I had to call Justin and we got together yesterday, picked the tunes we played tonight, ran through them, and then today we met at the Recital Hall pretty early, spot checked some of the tunes and then put the show on,” said Hawkins.
Although preparation for the combo was a bit rushed, the trio was able to devise a track list that was about an hour long. “The No. 1 choice had to have a Bill Evans tune because it’s the Bill Evans Festival. There were some tunes that we all happened to know. Justin and I knew the chord changes to most of the tunes already so that made hand-picking tracks for the combo much easier,” said Hawkins.
The three performers also made sure to add variety in the styles of jazz that they performed. “We picked songs that we’ve played before, but we also made sure to pick songs from different styles of jazz music. That way we wouldn’t be playing the same style of music from start to finish,” said Pertuit.