Oberlin's Jazz department is one-of-a-kind because it allows students (not teachers) to decide the membership of their ensemble. This means that Oberlin produces not just great musicians but great bands. Many of these bands stay together for their entire Oberlin career, and some continue to make music together after graduation. We want to do the same. Before we make that leap we need to see how we function as a band in the real world. We need to perform together regularly outside Oberlin. We need to tour.
This tour is not just good for us. It is a perfect recruitment tool for Oberlin. A world-class musical performance is more compelling advertisement than any pamphlet or brochure Oberlin can send through the mail. Members of this band and most students at the conservatory remember a performance by an Oberlin ensemble coming to their school as the deciding factor that brought them into our community.
This tour also provides the opportunity for alumni to connect. Using Oberlin's extensive alumni network, we can facilitate connections between Obies that never could have happened otherwise. What could be more Oberlin than connecting over a great performance of music?
Echoes is the prime candidate for this project because we represent all the best that Oberlin's jazz department has to offer. As individuals Echoes includes winners of awards from Downbeat Jazz Magazine, Berklee School of Music, and Jazz at Lincoln Center's Essentially Ellington Competition. As a band, Echoes has received support and guidance from numerous members of the Oberlin faculty including Department Chair Robert Ferrazza, Professor of double bass Peter Dominguez, and professor of jazz saxophone Gary Bartz. Just this week, three of the four members of Echoes were chosen as finalists in Oberlin's jazz composition contest. Echoes is integrated into the Oberlin music community and has performed alongside all of Oberlin's other longstanding student ensembles (Beards, The Herbert Julius Effect R.A.I.G, Double Stop, SUN SPEAK). Echoes has performed in numerous venues around Oberlin, but also in Cleveland at locations like the Bop Stop and Happy Dog.