Student Jazz Combo offers rousing performance

Jonathan Blount, David Gambino, Josh Pardue, Josh Olsen and Wesley Mannino perform Justin Pardue's original piece "Fuuuuuunk!" during the jazz combo Tuesday night. - Photo by Megan Mosher

The all-student jazz combo brought down the house with their rousing performance of original student songs Tuesday night in Southeastern’s Pottle auditorium. 

Performing numbers written by students Corey Reeves, Josh Olsen, Jonathan Blount and Justin Pardue, the 10 music majors took turns thrilling the audience of about 100 with slow, sweet jazz and exciting them with rousing brassy pieces. 

According to the combo director, Dr. Richard Schwartz, the songs were part of an assignment students had to fulfill during one of their music classes and were chosen by fellow students for this performance. Schwartz also noted these songs will go on to compete in an American song-writing competition. 

One of the most stirring pieces was Olsen’s number, “Cloudy Sunshine.” The audience applauded throughout the song for the enthusiastic solos by David Gambino on the soprano saxophone, Corey Reeves on the tenor saxophone, Zakk Garner on guitar and Olsen himself on trumpet. 

Though he’s been interested in music his entire life and playing trumpet since the age of 10, Olsen said this was the very first time he has ever written a piece of music and had it performed. 

“I’ve always written music in my head; I just never wrote it down,” he laughed. 


Students had to audition for the combo and rehearsed together about four hours total over a two-week period. Even still, the camaraderie between the students onstage was evident and their fedora-stealing antics brought a chuckle from the crowd. 

“They grow to be good friends,” Schwartz said of the students. “Each has a strong, yet flexible personality.” 

Zach Lea, an older audience member, said though he is unconnected to the university, he was drawn to the performance because of his love for live jazz performances. 

And he was not disappointed. 

“I thought it was wonderful,” Lea said. He said the fact that the performers were all students and the songs were student-written only made their talented performance more wonderful. 

The other student musicians included: 

  • Wesley Mannino – drums
  • Josh Pardue – trumpet
  • Jonathan Blount – alto saxophone
  • Justin Pardue – trombone
  • Robert Repak – bass

 Schwartz said he was pleased with the performance overall. 

“I think the students did very well,” he said. “Each has a different performance level due to past experience, but in regards to their current experience level they did quite well. Also, the quality of the audience was wonderful. They seemed very happy to be at the concert.”

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