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Legendary jazz musicians perform at Drake

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Photo by Taylor Soule, photo editor

New York may be 19 hours from Drake, but the Turner Jazz Center is bringing a piece of it to Drake tomorrow at 9 p.m. The Rob Scheps/Frank Basile Quintet will be performing in our hall. These two musicians are legends in the jazz world. Turner Center marketing director Maggie Sanabria described them as “a world class group.”

There will be two main performers at the NYC concert, as suggested by the group’s name: Rob Scheps and Frank Basile. Both play the saxophone, though Scheps is a tenor or soprano saxophonist while Basile prefers the lower baritone sax. They have known each other for years; they were seated together in the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.

Not only does this orchestra have a long history, starting back in 1966 under musicians Thad Jones and Mel Lewis, but it also has toured through Europe and won a Grammy for the song “The Way” — the Music of Slide Hampton. Currently, the orchestra is nominated for two Grammys: the best large jazz ensemble and the best instrumental arrangement.

Based in one of New York’s famous nightclubs, the Village Vanguard, the jazz orchestra’s Monday night performances are popular with jazz fans. Though it has changed names and directors many times, this 16-player group has still remained an iconic band. As written in The New York Sun: “(The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra) is the most influential jazz big band of the contemporary era.”

Yet both Scheps and Basile have their own groups. Scheps currently has a “Core-tet,” while Basile performs in a quintet. Currently, they are taking a break from the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and are touring throughout the country in a quintet with a Kansas City pianist, percussionist and string bass player. Five weeks after their tour concludes, the two will rejoin the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra for a concert in Indianapolis.

Dr. James Romain, assistant director of jazz studies and associate professor of saxophone at Drake, knows Scheps from several years ago and managed to put Drake on the duo’s tour list. It is a huge performance since The New York Sun also explained that “this is the band in which every student musician dreams of playing, the band that virtually every college jazz orchestra tries to sound like.” In the past, Romain has also brought in members from the Des Moines Big Band and from Kansas City.

Also coming up later this semester is Drake’s Jazz I ensemble. On April 11, it will feature guest artist, pianist and drummer Matt Harris at 7:30 p.m. Tickets will be $5, but there is a $3 student rush if you bring your ID.  On April 26, the Turner Jazz Center performs at 7:30 p.m. The next day will feature a swing dancing night. This event is waiting to be approved, so speak up if you want to have the event (the Turner Jazz Center can be contacted via Facebook or through the email listed below). It is expected to be free.

However, since the NYC event is so impressive, admission will be charged. If you call ahead of time, tickets can be bought for $12. For large groups, there is also an offered rate of $9 per ticket for 10 or more people. Drake students will be given the same $9 price if they show their student ID at the door. For all others in the community, the price will be $15. Payment will be made at the door and in cash. To reserve tickets, you can call 515-271-3110. You can also email turnerjazz@drake.edu to reserve your spot.

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