The Ouachita Baptist University Jazz Combo traveled to Liverpool Hope University in England to participate in the British Association of Symphonic Bands and Wind Ensembles Festival from Nov. 17-18. The festival included a variety of bands and ensembles from the Liverpool area.
The trip came about when Dr. Craig Hamilton, OBU’s Lena Goodwin Trimble Professor of Music and director of bands as well as the music education chair, visited Liverpool Hope University this past spring. He was invited to return by band director Anne James, a lecturer in teacher education, to be the guest clinician and conductor for the festival.
The Jazz Combo includes Hamilton; Dr. Sim Flora, professor emeritus of music; Michael Curtis, a senior music major from Wylie, Texas; Chris Mazen, a senior church music major from Shreveport, La.; and Zach Zucha, a senior business major from Wylie, Texas. With Hamilton on trumpet, Flora on trombone and flute, Curtis on bass, Mazen on piano and Zucha on drums, the group is “basically the rhythm section from the Ouachita Jazz Band and Dr. Flora and me,” Hamilton said.
When Flora was unexpectedly unable to attend the trip, “Zach, Mike and Chris had to step up and present the improvisation master classes while I was doing the band clinics,” Hamilton noted. “They did an outstanding job. I am very proud of the way they ran the master classes, played in all the concerts and represented OBU on our trip. They are wonderful men and musicians.”
“We were excited about the opportunity more than anything,” Zucha said. “Teaching the improv classes was as much a learning experience for us as it was for the students in the classes.”
“Honestly, I was crazy nervous up front since I had no idea what kind of players were going to be there and was wondering if I could adjust on the fly to teach effectively, but things turned out great,” Curtis said. “Of course, it would’ve been great to have Dr. Flora there, but we managed to make things work.”
“Liverpool is such a musically rich community,” Zucha added. “There were all kinds of music being played all over the city at any point in time. With jazz being an American art form, we were definitely looked at as being ‘the real deal.’ They were very interested in what we were doing and seemed to really enjoy the music. It made playing for them so much fun.”
“The festival was phenomenal,” Mazen said. “Listening to the different talent was great, but we met an incredible piano player over there. … We made some great friends, and I am still in contact with them.
“I always enjoy working with bands and this was no exception – we had a blast!” Hamilton said.
Liverpool Hope is Ouachita’s newest partner in international education. The partnership has facilitated the exchange of several faculty members and students for the benefit of both universities.
For more information on the Jazz Combo, contact Dr. Craig Hamilton at email@example.com or (870) 245-5137.
By Ryleigh Salmon