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A recently formed student Jazz Trio presented “An Afternoon of Jazz” with two vocalists noon Monday in the Williams Center for the Arts auditorium.

The free event included dessert and beverages.

The concert featured pianist Brandon Cochenour ’03, an electrical and computer engineering major from Lower Burrell, Pa.; bass player Dan Miller ‘03, an electrical and computer engineering major from East Amherst, N.Y.; drummer John O’Keefe ’96, instructional technologist at Lafayette; and vocalists Dave Mitchell ’05, a music major from Bear Creek, Pa.; and Nuri Noaz ’03, a double major in music and government & law from Ocean, N.J.

Noaz sang for “The Masqurade is Over” and “All is Right With the World,” while Mitchell sang for “Smack Dab in the Middle” and “The Days of Wine and Roses.” They joined for a duet on “Time After Time.”

“I also wanted to do a trio piece with just John, Dan, and I,” says Cochenour. “I immediately thought of transcribing ‘…And Sammy Walked In,’ a composition by one of my favorite jazz pianists, Michel Camilo. He is originally from the Dominican Republic, and his music has really strong Latin/Cuban/Spanish influences. This was also a good choice because it provided a bit of a change to the ‘straight ahead’ jazz tunes that Nuri and Dave sang.”

Cochenour, a veteran of the Jazz Ensemble, is part of another recently formed student group, the Jazz Combo, which made its debut in December (see related story). He decided to put the Jazz Trio together at the beginning of the spring semester.

“I met John O’Keefe and Dan Miller my first semester here, when we played together for the College Theater production of Working,” he recalls. “Since then, we’ve had the opportunity to play together on and off at functions like alumni dinners, trustee weekends, etc. Never before, however, had we done anything formal like this.”

The same holds true for the vocalists, he adds.

“Nuri and I have played together before, mostly just getting together for fun in one of the practice rooms to sing and play through tunes. We did the Fringe festival as a piano/vocal duo a few times since our freshman year. As for Dave, we met via the Jazz Ensemble. He plays trombone there, but sang a song with the band last semester. We then started talking about getting together to do something more intimate, a trio setting. So, I figured with this being my last semester here, it was time to put this together. In all, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and I am glad we were all able to come together.”

As skilled musicians, Miller and O’Keefe require little direction or instruction, adds Cochenour.

“In most cases, we were able to just discuss how we were going to do a tune, and they did it. Nuri has a great voice, and I tried to pick some songs for her to sing that would show that off. Same for Dave, who has a great feel for the jazz idiom. Again, I tried to pick some songs that would really show that off.”

Singing with the Jazz Trio has been a rewarding experience, says Mitchell.

“It is almost totally student-run and organized basically from scratch, and that puts a lot of positive pressure on the individual to try hard and do well,” he explains. “I have been challenged with learning new music, singing in the jazz idiom, and especially singing with a jazz trio — as opposed to the jazz band, a cappella groups, or the choir — all of which are relatively new and inspiring musical outlets for me.

“I am sad that the group includes three seniorsI would have loved to work with them much more. As it stands, though, they were all in their prime musical shape for this performance, which represented, for some of them, a culmination of four years’ work in the jazz idiom here at Lafayette. I appreciate working with them at this time, late in their collegiate musical development.”

Mitchell hopes to join with O’Keefe in forming another Jazz Trio next semester.

His next campus performance is Friday’s year-ending concert by The Chorduroys, Lafayette’s male a cappella group (see related story).


Pianist Brandon Cochenour ’03 founded the Jazz Trio and performs with the Jazz Ensemble.

Categorized in: Academic News