Percussionist and saxophonist step into AOA spotlight

By Kesha Williams

Performing artists who garnered the spotlight as students at ECSU are making quite an impression on local jazz fans.

Arts of the Albemarle (AOA) is hosting a jazz series February through June that showcases live performing artists whose music reflects the many forms of jazz. It’s the first time AOA has hosted the series, Third Thursday Jazz Series. On March15, JaVon Copeland, a percussionist and current ECSU student, brought friends to the downtown gallery for an evening of chart topping music. After earning a B. A. in music, he plans to not only teach in the public schools, but perform as a musician at public events. Copeland performed with ECSU’s Wind Ensemble, the Sound of Class (marching band), and the Jazz Ensemble over the last four years.

Thursday’s event was just another opportunity to showcase skills he developed under the direction of ECSU’s music faculty. He said he was pleased to perform at AOA and to see so many familiar faces there.

“My experience at the AOA event was simply amazing. The atmosphere was very calm and vibrant.  It seemed as though no one was worried about anything but the experience at hand,” Copeland said.

He was the second former student to play for the series.

On Thursday, February 18, saxophonist Jashaun Peele delighted the audience with smooth jazz, swing jazz with a modern flair, and R& B favorites.

Peele earned a bachelor’s degree in 2010 from ECSU and a master’s degree in 2012. He taught classes at ECSU and College of the Albemarle before moving on to become an assistant professor of mathematics at William Peace University. He says math is an important part of everyday life and music performances are no exception. After all, math is relevant for musicians to determine how long to hold a note, how quickly/ slowly to play the notes or to determine the tempo of an entire musical selection. Those mathematical components are essential factors to the melody of our favorite, classic hits.

 “I like to take tunes that are common and tunes that are not-so-common and have fun with them…  give them a different spin. We played songs such as Mr. Magic, Summertime, Let's Stay Together, Ain't Nobody, Outstanding, and many others,” Peele recounted.

ECSU music faculty say ensemble performances are not only requirements for music majors but prime opportunities for students to develop stage presence, develop their knowledge of music genres and to develop assorted musical performance skills. When they succeed as performing artists for local, state, or national musical series, it’s a positive reflection of the level of instruction offered at ECSU.

 This jazz series continues at Arts of the Albemarle on the third Thursday of the month from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.