By Chantelle Olson –
Augustana and the greater Camrose community experiencedhosted a rare treat onTuesday, January 5, night, as the Karl Schwonik Jazz Quartet and the Camrose Composite High School Jazz Combo performed for a sizable audience in the Faith & Life Chapel. Over post-concert punch and cookies in the foyer, the third concert in the Steinway Inaugural series Series received rave reviews from the post-concert audience.
Dr. Milton Schlosser introduced’s enthusiastic introduction paved the way for the CCHS Jazz Combo, a group of local high school students who proceeded to thrilled the audience with their arrangements of classic jazz tunes. They opened, opening with the immortal Moondance and ending ended with a rousing arrangement of Oye Como Va. PJ Bailey on trumpet, Cody Brown on alto sax and Aaron Mokry on trombone were featured in numerous solos, while numerous times; drummer Victoria Carlson and bassist Joshua Labrecque also enjoyed a moments in the spotlight. The new Steinway’s ivories of the new piano, skillfully tickled by Brad Wills, blended seamlessly into the sound of the whole ensemble.
During the short intermission, I had the chance to speakspoke with the members of the combo, who are coached by Mr. Tom Spila, the music, band and choir teacher at Camrose Composite High School. The students’ expressed their effusive enthusiasm through words like “amazing”, “groovy”, and “fun”, stumbling over each other’s sentences in their excitement. Bailey emphasized the honour and value of such a great opportunity. Brown was a bit more reserved, saying: “wWe played better than I thought we would.” They mentioned the imminent need for a proper name for their group, citing “the CCHS Jazz Combo” as rather drab. As the group chattered on, it was readily apparent that these seven students are intensely passionate about jazz.
The second half of the evening revealed the same passion in the artistry of Karl Schwonik and his band. For over an hour, the quartet demonstrated a marvelous mastery of their art, treating the audience to a number of original compositions by band members and friends, and ending with an enchanting arrangement of the Pink Panther theme song. Schwonik’s wife joined the guys on the cello for a few numbers, although regrettably her playing was rather hard to hear at times. Former Augustana faculty member Chris Andrew delivered a stellar performance on the new Steinway, and Schwonik lived up to his press and reputation on the drums. A It was a truly enjoyable music experience.
The C.C.H.S. Jazz Combo is PJ Bailey (trumpet), Cody Brown (alto sax), Ryan Nagy (tenor sax), Aaron Mokry (trombone), Brad Wills (piano), Joshua Labrecque (bass guitar), Victoria Carlson (drums). They can be reached through Tom Spila at CCHS. The Karl Schwonik Jazz Quartet is Karl Schwonik (drums), Chris Andrew (piano), Kodi Hutchinson (bass) and Brent Mah (sax). They can be contacted through his website, www.karlschwonik.com.