Jay T. Vonada’s quartet transformed Old Main Chapel into a jazz club with the sounds of trombone, piano, drums and bass last Thursday evening.
The quartet is led by Vonada, a trombonist from Central Pennsylvania, who has performed at several festivals and venues across Pennsylvania. Joining Vonada were pianist Kirk Reese, a GRAMMY-nominated musician; bassist Joshua Davis, director of jazz studies at Susquehanna University; and drummer Kevin Lowe, who has commissioned pieces for Cornell University and Bucknell University.
Every song off the quartet’s new album “United” was played, including the original songs “Inspired,” “Summer Daze,” “Serenity” and a song titled “Sisaroo,” dedicated to Vonada’s sister. The group also played songs not written by Vonada, such as “Summertime” by George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward and “Darn That Dream,” by Jimmy Van Heusen and Eddie DeLange.
The numbers featured a variety of techniques, and rotated solos between the four instruments. Vonada used a plunger trombone mute during a few songs to alter the sound of his trombone. Reese proved to be a ferocious pianist with lively solos that filled the chapel.
All four instruments would often be playing at the same time, winding up to a solo that would feature an individual instrument.
The band also offered special previews for unreleased songs such as “Beautiful Mother.”
“The Winter Blues,” an original composition by Vonada, was a clear crowd favorite. The song featured an arpeggiator pedal, which allowed for bass notes to be repeated over and over without them being played.
Ken Jenkura, of Newville, who has been the Shippensburg University piano tuner for the last 22 years, was in attendance.
“It’s standard jazz solos back and forth. It’s good. I’ve heard the bass player before,” Jenkura said.
“‘The Winter Blues’ is my favorite song so far,” sophomore Marc Hall said during the performance.
Freshman Sadie Walshaw agreed that “The Winter Blues” was the best song so far.
“I also liked ‘Summertime’” since I’m familiar with the song,” Walshaw said. “I think they’re good performers. It’s a good way to spend my Thursday night. It’s very calming.”