Campus jazz musicians are going to paint the town with their smooth sound and bomb beats.
The Youngstown Jazz Collective, a nonprofit music-oriented student organization, recently raised nearly $4,000 to produce, record and print their first CD, “Absent Dreamers.”
The nine-track album was composed and produced by Youngstown State University students Mark Higgins, Kevin Snyder, Rob Chase, Jim Weltman and Clay Colley.
“We wanted to do an original Youngstown project,” Chase said.
After a failed attempt two years ago, the group decided to give it another try with the support of David Morgan, an associate professor of jazz studies and string bass, and Jack Ciarniello, an instructor of music recording.
“The second go around, [David] asked us what we wanted to do,” Higgins said. “Dave really helped because I had never tried to write anything before.”
The students said that before this project, they hadn’t tried to compose anything original.
YCJ was awarded an undergraduate student research grant of $1,000. The group raised the remaining funds through bake sales and through the website Kickstarter. They exceeded their goal, raising more than $2,000.
“We really worked from nothing,” Snyder said.
The group recorded on campus and is anticipating the release of the album. The CD will be available in a physical format as well as on iTunes and CD Baby.
“This is also going to be a good way to promote the university for incoming music students,” Snyder said. “Like, here is a physical copy of an original project students did.”
Higgins said the last time a CD was released from the jazz ensemble was in 2006, and that while that project was mostly arrangements, the CD will be original.
The students have taken the typical jazz sound idea and have added elements of nontraditional sounds to their arrangements.
“The idea behind the composition was different music styles and use the jazz big band behind it. There are elements of hip-hop and pop. so it goes back to the ‘60s and ‘70s when fusion jazz came back because of rock ‘n’ roll,” Chase said.
Snyder said everyone involved with the project enjoyed the recording process.
“With jazz, I can do whatever I want and it’s OK,” he said.
Higgins added that he enjoyed writing jazz pieces because it allowed band members to be more creative.
“If you broke up the album and listened to my songs, there is definitely a certain music style that I tried to emulate,” he said.
The album will be released on April 22 at Nighttown in Cleveland Heights.
“The beauty of this album is that no one song can define it,” Chase said.
To celebrate the album’s release, the jazz studies program will host a free concert. It will be held in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center on Monday at 8 p.m.