Oberlin Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble Performs March 13

All-star student group’s return to action ends months of COVID limitations.

March 9, 2022

Erich Burnett

Sonny Rolllins playing a saxophone.

The Oberlin Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble, a student group created through the support of the legendary jazz musician, will perform a set in Oberlin Conservatory’s Clonick Hall recording studio on Sunday, March 13.

The 2:30 p.m. concert is free and open to the public, and will be streamed at Oberlin.edu/livestream.

The ensemble will present a mix of original tunes and arrangements of standards by the group’s members and director Bobby Ferrazza, Oberlin’s professor of jazz guitar.

The 2021-22 Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble lineup consists of Armen Krakirian (trumpet), Coleman Rose (saxophone), Eric Weaver (trombone), Sehrea Brown (vocals), Archer Parks (guitar), Wilson Woods (piano), Kamran Curlin (bass), and Martin Kent (drums).

Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble musicians.
The Oberlin Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble, with director Bobby Ferrazza (far left). Photo by Tanya Rosen-Jones '97.

Formed in 2018, the Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble was made possible through a generous gift to Oberlin Conservatory by Rollins, the revered jazz saxophonist and composer. More than a mere spot in an elite unit, membership in the ensemble requires a commitment to service through music and willingness to give for others—core principles exemplified by Rollins, now 91, throughout his life and career.

Auditions for the ensemble are held each year, and all Oberlin jazz students are eligible for inclusion beginning with their first year on campus.

In January 2019, the Sonny Ensemble performed two sets at New York City’s Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center complex. The following year, the ensemble made its West Coast debut in the Joe Henderson Lab at SFJAZZ in San Francisco.

A return engagement at SFJAZZ coupled with a slate of Bay Area school performances were canceled this year due to COVID restrictions. The students joined forces in fall semester to purchase and deliver groceries to Afghan refugees who have resettled in the Cleveland area.

“These students are among the most talented musicians in our conservatory, but they are also amazing stewards of the mission Mr. Rollins established for this group: to be servants to their community not only through their music, but through their generosity of spirit,” says Ferrazza. “I’m very proud of each one of them, and all of Oberlin can be proud of them too.”

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