Quartet entertains and educates with tribute to jazz legend


Emanuel Espinoza

Audience members joining the informal jam with their instruments playing to the tune of “Bags’ Groove” by Milt Jackson. The concert and clinic took place in the Recital Hall on Monday.

The Alex Jenkins Quartet performed the music of American jazz saxophonist, bandleader and composer John Coltrane during a concert and clinic in the Recital Hall on Monday.

The group featured Jenkins on drums, Levi Saelua on saxophone, Alex Reiff on bass and Arlyn Anderson on guitar.

Music Department Chair Maxwell Kiesner invited the band to campus to support his work with students in the campus jazz band.

“Many students have never had the opportunity to hear professional musicians at this level up-close and personal,” Kiesner said. “Mostly, these kinds of events are meant to expose students to professional level practices, behaviors, performances (and) teaching.”

The show began with a Coltrane set curated by bandleader Jenkins. Jenkins said he chose Coltrane because he’s one of the greatest composers of all time.

“I listen to a Coltrane song (that) maybe I’ve listened to for the last 30 years and I still find something new,” Jenkins said.

After the set, Jenkins hosted a questions-and-answers session with the audience, which was filled with many of Kiesner’s students.

Jenkins said his best advice to students who want to improve was to get with a teacher that knows how to play various styles and to listen to a lot of jazz.

“If you want to learn how to play jazz and get good at jazz, you gotta listen to it every day,” Jenkins said.

Anderson echoed his bandmate’s advice.

“Listen a lot. Play with a lot of different people and instrumentations,” Anderson said. “Have as big a palate of colors as you can.”

The event ended when Jenkins invited audience members on stage for an informal jam to “Bags’ Groove” by Milt Jackson.

Twelve jazz band members joined with instruments such as the flute, trumpet, trombone and sousaphone.

About halfway through the jam, music major Kolton Cross, 18, put on his tap shoes and danced across the stage.

Cross said he grew up as a dancer and that the impromptu move wasn’t planned.

“I didn’t bring (my tap shoes) thinking ‘I’m gonna tap on stage,’” Cross said.“It just happened to me.”

Charles Levier, 18, a music major, engaged in the Q&A and practiced on Jenkins’s drums during the jam.

“It opened my eyes to why I need to practice drumming again,” Levier said. “I don’t practice enough at home.”

Afterward, Jenkins praised Kiesner and his students’ enthusiasm for the craft.

“We really like working with schools to present concerts and clinics,” Jenkins said. “We are all heavily involved in education and really enjoy working with students.”

For performance dates, teaching information or bookings on The Alex Jenkins Quartet, visit alexdrums.net.