JSU presents Steel Band and Latin Ensemble in concert


Hannah Ashford, Staff Reporter

JSU’s Latin Ensemble and Steel Band performed on Tuesday night at the Mason Hall Performance Center. The Latin Ensemble is under the direction of Dr. Andy Nevala and the steel band is under the direction of Dr. Tony McCutchen.

The Steel Band contains varying types of steel drums. These including tenors, double tenors, guitar pans and bass pans. The electric bass and drum set played by Ryan Grider and Colin James are in the ensemble as well.

The Steel Band has practiced for this concert since the beginning of the semester, but while preparing for other events alongside. The ensemble performed at the Black History Month concert in February. In addition, the group will also perform Thursday the 30th at Randall McDonald and DJ Hester’s percussion recital.

The Latin Ensemble consisted of several percussionists, as well as other vital instruments. Matt Whitehead and Jared Triggs played trumpet while Devin Hale played the baritone saxophone, and Susana Rivas played the trombone.

Rivas says she loves the way that Latin Jazz sounds.


“Playing Jazz is whole other world of music. The music written is not what makes Latin Jazz fun, it’s the musicality that [a performer] puts behind it that makes it enjoyable,” said Rivas.

The Latin Ensemble has performed several times this semester. This includes Jared Triggs’s recital, Lincoln High School, and even at Brother’s Bar in Jacksonville. They will also be performing on Friday, March 31st for the 6th annual Jazz Festival, featuring several other Jazz ensembles.

The concert started out with the Latin Ensemble playing El Shing-A-Ling by Poncho Sanchez followed by Guantanamera by Jose Fernandez. Several of the wind players and percussionists were featured in solos for these pieces. This included Benji Bess on piano and Danny Moore, Daniel Allen and Parker Niece on several different percussion instruments. They ended their portion of the program with So What by Miles Davis.

The Steel Band performed next. Their portion started off with the famous piece called, “William Tell” by Gioachino Rossini. They also played familiar pieces like “Knee Deep” by the Zac Brown Band. This was arranged by Kramer Smith, a tenor steel

drum player.

The Latin Ensemble and the Steel Band joined forces later in the program to create a combined and unique sound. The combined band played two songs, which included “Another Star” by Stevie Wonder and “Jungle Boogie” by Kool and the Gang.

The concert ended by the replaying “William Tell,” but this time, it was slightly different. It was given more of a rock vibe by letting Colin James play the drum set. At the end of the piece, James played a fast and energetic drum solo. When he concluded, the audience erupted with cheers and gave a standing ovation.

The concert was a success. The musicians were happy with their performance. Kevin Geeter, a steel band performer, loves what he does and described it as, “It doesn’t feel like another ensemble. It feels like I have time to relax and have fun doing something different than normal,” said Geeter.

Other performers, like Shelby Hudgins love the freedom being in Steel Band provides.

The energy in the room was unimaginable and the audience agreed that it was an entertaining concert to watch. Both ensembles have performances left in the semester and all are encouraged to join.

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