All That Jazz

By Gabe Garcia

Entering college means entering a new chapter in life; making friends, joining a club, and relishing in a newfound freedom, all the while trying to choose a career. For Justin Lee Randall and his jazz band, it’s been about all that and more.

Randall, a senior at Youngstown State University, is a Jazz Performance major. He took up playing the trumpet at the age of 10 and recently recorded an album titled Prism, which will be released on Thursday.  

In 2013, Randall graduated from Boardman High School where he was influenced a great deal by his then music teacher Tom Jerry.

“He ran a top notch jazz program,” said Randall. “I listened to a lot of jazz my senior year of high school, mostly from the 50’s and 60’s era.”

His favorite artists include Chet Baker, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Woody Shaw, Tom Herrell, Ambrose Akinmusire, Christian Scott and John Coltrane.

“I’ve wanted to make an album since the beginning or middle of my sophomore year,” Randall said. “It will act as a marking point so that years from now I’ll be able to reminisce if I make it as an artist and land a record deal.”

Members of the band include Zach Connolly on the drums, Jamal Fareed and Jordan Mastrangelo for vocals, Luke Hagerman on the bass, Stephen P. Harvey on the tenor saxophone, Joshua Wertz on the alto saxophone, Anthony Kunovic on the guitar, Alex Ayers on the piano and of course Justin Randall on the trumpet, all of which are current or former YSU students.

“I’ve known Justin for about 3 or 4 years,” said Kunovic. “We started this band for his CD project in the spring of 2016 and around the same time performed Justin’s music at the Lime Tree Sandwich Gallery in Warren, OH.”

“I think that the best part of being in this group is that it gives me an opportunity to make great music with my friends,” said Ayers. “It doesn’t ever feel like work when I show up for rehearsals and the shows are always high energy.”

The inspiration for the title Prism came from the fact that the album itself features many different styles and genres of music rather than just one.

Randall and his band are very excited for the album, which will feature different genres of music as well as all original styles such as latin, hip-hop, bop, swing and funk.

“Recording an album is definitely a big deal for the artist,” said Frank Toncar, Producer at Peace of Mind Productions and Music Recording major at the Dana School of Music. “Basically what I try to do is make whatever they have in mind come to life.”

“I always try to talk to the artist in advance to really get an idea of what kind of music they play, what kind of music they listen to, and what kind of sounds they’re aiming for, so that I can use the best techniques to get the sounds that they want to hear,” said Toncar.

Randall said the recording of the album took around two days, but the mixing and mastering ended up taking extra time. The finished work is worth the wait, according to Kunovic.

“I am very proud to be on Prism,” said Kunovic. “It’s a project like this that really expands and improves the Youngstown music scene. I believe that Justin is solidifying himself as one of the most important young jazz musicians in the Youngstown area.”

Randall and his band will have an album release party for Prism on Thursday, September 29 at Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts from 9 p.m. to midnight. The album is available for pre-order now for $8 at