Music department jazzes up pizza joint


Illustration by Kendra Brisco

Jazz and pizza a great combo

On Thursday, Nov. 13, the Missouri Southern State University’s Jazz Band will be performing their annual Jazz Combo Concert in Corley Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. The performance will be repeated on Friday, Nov. 14, at Gusano’s Pizza at 6 p.m.

The Jazz band has been preparing for their first performance since the beginning of the semester. There will be three combos that are performing, three separate groups. Both concerts are free and open to the public. In previous years, there has always been a large turnout; a large turnout is expected for both venues this year as well.  

“There is a variety of music we’re doing,” said Dr. Phillip Wise, director of jazz studies. “We’re doing straight ahead jazz pieces; we’re doing more contemporary pieces, some ballads, Latin pieces, and Bossa novas. All sorts of different styles within the jazz idiom.”  

According to Wise, a jazz combo is a small group of usually three to nine people, which is different from a big band or jazz orchestra or jazz band where there will be 18 or 19 people in the band.

“It’s a much smaller, more intimate type of ensemble and lends itself room for improvisation rather than reading music so it’s a size difference between the groups but it’s also a more improvisation than a small group with a large group,” stated Wise.

A Jazz combo, unlike a traditional marching band or a concert band, is about 90% improvisation, so every performance is different and unique.

“What they’re improvising on is a chord structure, so there’s some structure to the chords … but there’s no written music, they’re just chord symbols,” said Wise, “So students are looking at the chords symbols so they have a structure, and they’re improvising within that structure.”

Concerts in Corley auditorium are more formal and limited to about 60 minutes. As for the performance at Gusano’s on the 14th, the concert will be about two hours long where there will be additional music added to the bill so people can enjoy the music while they socialize.

“Whether you’re a jazz aficionado, you enjoy it or just want to learn more about it, or have just never been to a jazz concert before; it’s something you should experience,” said Wise. “So students who have never been to a jazz performance, I think it’s important that they have an opportunity to at least once in their college career come and experience that. And who knows, they may find music they enjoy and want to come back and listen to more and if not, then at least they’ve experienced it.”