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Rio Jazz Ensemble to host reunion concert

April 15, 2014

RIO GRANDE, Ohio – For 20 years the University of Rio Grande’s Jazz Ensemble has entertained the musical palates of southeastern Ohio and the region. That rich history and tradition will be celebrated on April 22 with the 20th Anniversary Jazz Ensemble Reunion Concert.

The current five-member Jazz Ensemble will be joined by nearly 20 Rio alumni for a memorable performance under the direction of Dr. Chris Kenney. Free and open to the public, the concert is scheduled at start at 8 p.m. in the Berry Fine & Performance Arts Center on the Rio Grande campus.

“The audience will hear an evening of great jazz, performed by many generations of Rio students,” Dr. Kenney said. “This is the first time that members of the Jazz Ensemble has gotten together for a reunion.”

The Jazz Ensemble consists of Rio students Jacob Hocker (trumpet), Jordan Lombardo (bass), Andy Milliken (guitar), Matthew Rinehart (trombone) and Skyler Thompson (drums).

Dr. Kenney formed the Jazz Ensemble when he joined the Rio faculty in the fall of 1993, and the April 22 reunion will open with the first song the ensemble ever performed, Blue Train by John Coltrane.

“A lot of alumni are really excited,” said Kristin Coen, a saxophone player on the Jazz Ensemble from 2001 to 2005 who will perform at the reunion. “The pieces that we’re playing are iconic in American music history. The concert will be a great event for the campus and entire community.”

Coen works as the band director for Huntington Local Schools in Chillicothe.

The reunion will feature other songs performed throughout the years by the ensemble including Fables of Faubus by Charles Mingus, In Walked Bud by Thelonious Monk, Tin Tin Deo by Gill Fuller, original compositions by Dr. Kenney and more.

Ensemble alumni schedule to perform include Justine Baker (saxophone and flute, 2008-2013), Andy Boyer (saxophone, 2002-05), Jimmy Caudill (trombone, 2000-03), Jay Godeaux (bass, 2005-06), Sabrina Hurt (piano, 1998-06), John Jackson (drums, 1994-95), Michelle Miller (trombone and piano, 1997-98), Amy Ryan (saxophone, 1993-95), Bobby Sandlin (drums, 2008-09), Christian Scott (piano, 1994-95), Andy Sigman (trombone, 1995-99), Sonja Thompson (saxophone, 1997-98), Matthew West (trombone and guitar, 2006-10), Matt Willis (drums, 1993-94), Marilyn Wills (piano, 1996-98), Chris Wyscarver (drums, 1996-2000) and Coen.

“I’m looking forward to the concert. It’s nice to get to perform with all the old jazz people and get to hear their experiences from the past,” senior Skyler Thompson said. “I think opening with the first jazz piece that they did (in 1993) will be pretty neat. I think the audience will really enjoy that.”