Smooth Jazz the Night Away

By Natalie Lasky

The Youngstown State University Jazz Combos filled the air with a variety of jazz arrangements Oct. 24 and Oct. 27. The YSU Jazz Quartet and the YSU Jazz Sextet performances were held at Bliss Hall’s Spotlight Theater, and the YSU Jazz Ensemble was held in Kilcawley Center’s Chestnut Room.

The music featured original compositions by Chandler Carpenter, a graduate student in jazz studies. There were a total of three bands that played the two different events of the series. 

Carpenter has been playing jazz guitar since high school when he joined his first big band. Carpenter said his ability came from years of work, determined to learn from his failures. Carpenter also said he believes anything is possible as someone becomes more familiar with whatever someone is learning.

“Everything is hard at first. Everything that you try and learn — It is hard — I do not think of it as hard or easy, but familiar and unfamiliar,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter played with the Jazz Quartet under the direction of David Morgan and played a series of six songs, four of which were composed by him. The Jazz Quartet is comprised of saxophonist Mason Ciesielski, guitarist Carpenter, bassist Brendan Burke and drummer Nick Grabigel.

Starting the jazz series off was the big band Jazz Ensemble including a variety of brass, winds, strings, drums and a singer under the direction of Kent Engelhardt, coordinator of jazz studies.

Engelhardt has been at YSU since the 1990s, where he started his professional journey in music. Engelhardt said he puts most of his time into developing student’s work professionally.

“For me when we get to this point, the thing that I like is just listening to them. Because my work is finished,” Engelhardt said. “My work is all the buildup through rehearsal, all the training … I count them off and I just get a thrill from listening to them.”

The ensemble also featured two  songs with an upbeat tempo from Carpenter. Carpenter’s first composition began with a keyboard, followed by various horns joining in accompaniment.

Thomas Landry, a sophomore music education major, played with the Jazz Sextet under the direction of David J. Kana and the big band.

“I was originally a French horn player in high school. I switched to trumpet fully in my senior year of high school and I’m [a trumpet musician] in my sophomore year [because of] jazz,” Landry said.

The Jazz Sextet consisted of Landry on trumpet, Zachary Fleischman on saxophone, Jacob Sholtes on guitar, Aaron White on piano, Shane Hogle on bass and Jordan Ringold, on drums.

The next set of concerts for the fall series will be held Nov. 11 to 13 and Nov. 18 to 20. The next six performances will start at 7:30 p.m. as an accompaniment to the musical “Godspell” at Ford Theater in Bliss Hall.

To learn more about the upcoming jazz series and other future events go to the Dana School of Music’s Facebook page.