“Fun, loud brass” promised for Jazz Fest

Students performing in this year's Eastern New Mexico University Jazz Fest describe the music as "fun, loud brass."

At least that's what they hope it sounds like to the audience tonight and Friday night in the ENMU's Buchanan Hall in the Music Building.

PNT photo: Christina Calloway

Eastern New Mexico University students, from left, Jeremy Urban, Christopher Gonzales and Kami Schmidt. rehearse Wednesday for ENMU Jazz Fest in the Music Building's Buchanan Hall.

Organizers label this event as a recruitment tool for prospective ENMU students and as an opportunity to invite the community to experience the sound of jazz.

"It's to support America's only indigenous art form," said ENMU Music Department Chair Dustin Seifert.

Music students from Clovis High School and Onate High School in Las Cruces will also perform for Jazz Fest.

The days will be filled with workshops and rehearsals and the nights will feature two public concerts, with special musical guest Chad Eby, a saxophonist and assistant professor of music at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

Special guest

As a saxophonist and composer, Eby has received awards for jazz composition from the Ohio Arts Council and the North Carolina Arts Council.

Eby's professionally commissioned works have been performed or recorded by Bill Charlap with Kurt Elling, Wynton Marsalis with Willie Nelson and Norah Jones, the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, the Dallas Jazz Orchestra and the L.A. All-star Big Band.

Eby is a clinician for Jazz at Lincoln Center's Essentially Ellington program and has been a featured guest artist/clinician at universities across the country.

A Newhall, Iowa native, Eby is a life-long student of music. He began playing clarinet at the age of 11 and began studying the saxophone a year later. He went on to study music at Luther College, completing his degree in jazz studies at the University of North Texas. Eby earned his master's degree in saxophone performance from Ohio State University.

He has released three albums, his latest being "New Business," which was released last December.

Eby lives in Greensboro with his wife Carmen, who is also a musician, and their two children.

The students

  • Christopher Gonzales is confident about his bass trombone playing skills. The junior and native of Grants said this year's fest has a different repertoire.

"We're playing some pretty big charts," Gonzales said.

Gonzales said he started playing the euphonium in seventh grade and when it eventually broke, he made his way to the trombone.

"I'm OK at classical music; jazz and improv are my strong suits," Gonzales said.

He has dreams of playing with a large orchestra, preferably in New York City or London.

He thinks ENMU's Jazz Fest is a great opportunity for high school musicians to see good players.

But ultimately he hopes to be the star of the show.

"I'm looking forward to me playing in the combo and showing off my talent," Gonzales said.

  • Jeremy Urban, a sophomore from Clovis, says he comes from a musical background and that's what inspired him to pick up his first saxophone in sixth grade.

"My grandfather was the announcer for the Clovis Wildcats Marching Band," Urban said. "I've always had music in my life."

He has plans of conducting in New York City, hopefully for the New York Philharmonic.

  • Kami Schmidt plans to one day teach music, which is why she's excited to serve as a leader for younger students during Jazz Fest.

The senior from Farwell plays classical saxophone, a love affair that began in the fourth grade and she stuck with it because she says music is something she always excelled at.

"Classical saxophone is beautiful," Schmidt said. "A lot of classical saxophone is transcription."

She hopes to one day teach at the collegiate level but still wants to have the opportunities to perform.

Schmidt thinks opportunities such as Jazz Fest are great for young aspiring musicians.

"It gives those students a chance to set high standards," she said. "And there's a couple of pieces that are fun to play."

  • What: ENMU Jazz Fest
  • When: 7 p.m. today and Friday
  • Where: ENMU's Buchanan Hall in the Music Building
  • The concerts are free and open to the public.

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