Jazz ensemble raises money for jazz festival

A group of seven students, six from the CSC Jazz ensemble, performed Nov. 18 to benefit their trip to the Montreal Jazz Festival.

Calling themselves “The Cruise”, the group did not play jazz. Instead they focused on their rock roots. Jeff Bruce, Joe Plotts, Mike Ray, Rob Valenti, and Meagan Sargent took the stage with killer vocals and great technique. They excelled at their choice of music to play. 

Plotts said they called themselves The Cruise to represent taking “a vacation away from the classic jazz we have to play in class.”

“When a lot of these students came into the department, they were strictly rock players. For this concert, they came up with the idea to do what it was that they thought they do best. They wanted to show off what it is they were comfortable with,” said Director of Bands Hank Vaughan. “I didn’t have to organize much though—only booking the stage, they did everything else.”

While each of these artists has anywhere from two to eight years experience, Plotts and Sargent stood out for their vocal work. Plotts mentioned this was his first time really singing and that because of the obvious power Sargent has. They were trying to get her join in on Jazz Combo.

Vocals aside, the clear talent in this group of students was unmistakable. They controlled the stage, garnered support from the audience despite the low attendance, and surprised all present.

Vaughan marks the group as being unique self-starters and says they started planning the June trip to Montreal on their train ride back from another festival in Chicago last year. They don’t get credits for going and they must raise the money themselves—this year it’s a $1,000 fee for each.

“We’ve got at least 15 going right now…most of those being performers but we also have some roadies…They really just wanna get out and play more and that makes my job easier,” said Vaughan.

He remembers that because of other obligations, the students on the last trip had to ride back from Chicago on their own while he was flying to Arizona.

“Before they even got back, they called me and said ‘Hey, can we go to Montreal next year?’—they hadn’t even gotten back yet. That’s really the new breed of student we have here in the Music Department,” Vaughan said.

With the first payment date looming, the group will have to continue to work diligently toward their goal. Both the musicians and Vaughan are confident that they will be successful.


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