The UJazz Boston Trio takes the Recital Hall stage on April 30, 7 p.m., bringing the celebration of International Jazz Day to the UMass Boston campus. Formed last semester, the three music majors have been holed up together for hours each week as an independent study project, developing their own interpretations of music from the last half-century. They’ll present an eclectic fusion of jazz, R & B, and soul music, drawing from artists ranging from Count Basie to Erika Badu.
Their efforts culminate in inviting the public for this free concert as they lay down the live tracks on what will soon be part of an album.
Domenic Davis on bass. Brian Hull on drums. Anthony Martin on piano. Each one will tell you they are constantly challenged by the other two. They’ve taken different paths to their instruments, and to UMass Boston, paths that weave through childhood and high school lessons, late nights at Wally’s Café in the South End, the military, playing clubs, and church. At UMass Boston, their musicianship and styles drew them together during Jazz Ensembles led by long-time director Peter Janson.
Janson, not known for hyperbole, calls them “world class musicians” and speaks of them as musical colleagues more than students. In devising their independent study, he sought to give them a forum to explore genre, experiment, and create a work that lasts. Assistant Professor Dennis Montgomery III from Berklee College of Music was brought on board to work with Martin, and has been an integral part of their weekly work.
The resulting recording, in part live tracks from the April 30 concert, will serve as a demo reel, as well as an entry into competitions like the Grammy College program to boost their careers as well as the UMass Boston Music Program.
As the UMass Boston Trio, this is their first open-to-the-public concert, though they’ve been playing frequently downtown at the UMass Club, gaining a fan in UMass President Marty Meehan. Guests are often surprised to learn the accomplished trio are students.
“They are unique, gifted and professional performers. It’s been a privilege and joy to have the UJazz Boston Trio perform regularly for guests at the UMass Club in downtown Boston, for Board of Trustees events and even at my inaugural State of the University Address in March,” says Meehan. “When guests ask where we found them, I’m proud to be able to say ‘UMass Boston.’”
“I’m amazed and inspired every day by the talent of UMass students, so when I get to help others experience it, I enjoy that opportunity,” he says.
On April 30, they look to expand their audience to the community, on campus and off, and are proud to be listed on the International Jazz Day series of events around the world. But at the same time, the day marks a culmination of their work through the semester, and they’re focus is, simply, playing great music together. Music that draws on a half-century of music they admire, and made their own.
“I may kick off my shoes,” says Martin. “These guys are just phenomenal players. When I’m playing with them, sometimes I’m thinking ‘God, help me keep up with them.’”
“We’ll get to serve up a good musical meal. We hope it feeds the spirit, body and soul,” Martin says.