After5 Jazz performs at Mendelssohn July 18

Online Staff Report

The Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center’s next “Jazz at Emerson” concert with After5 Jazz will be at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, July 18, at the historic Emerson House on the Mendelssohn PAC campus, 420 N. Main St., Rockford.

After5 Jazz consists of Thom Fishe on drums and percussion, Dave Ross on keyboard, Evon Sams on alto/tenor sax and flute, and Greg Clough on upright and electric bass. For this concert, After5 Jazz will be performing classic favorites like “Take The A Train,” “Misty” and “Three to Get Ready.”

Fishe, the leader and co-founder of After5 Jazz, began drumming at age 7, influenced by his father and brother. After high school, he joined the Berklee School of Music-originated group Music Magic, touring the East Coast through Boston, New York and Disney World. Returning to Rockford, he worked exclusively with jazz saxophonist John Davis and recorded his first LP. This important musical opportunity led to opening for such famed artists as Ahmad Jamaal, Lou Rawls, and Gladys Knight & The Pips. He established Rockford Area Music Industry (RAMI) Award “Hall of Fame” status while working with the Moonlight Jazz Orchestra and as a founding member of the Jodi Beach Trio, recording CDs with both. His time, feel and dynamic approach to his instrument support this strong musical cast.

Ross, After5 Jazz’s other co-founder, grew up in a musical family and studied classical piano as a child. While in college, he began learning to play jazz, inspired by greats Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck. Regional jazz bassist Guy Fiorenza took Dave under his musical wing, and with drummer Jack Brand, provided early gig opportunities, extensive experience and practical advice. Additional regional music endeavors include working as a member of the progressive jazz band “Opan Jii” and the Latin band “Escape,” before co-founding the “After5 Jazz” project with Fishe. Dave’s unique ability to play a silky, smooth ballad with elegance and then easily lead a rhythm section through a tune with intricate time signatures, certainly underscores his versatility and talent as a musician … and performer.

Fishe and Ross are joined by Clough, a local young bassist talent who has been playing and performing upright and electric bass for eight years. He is a music major at Rock Valley College, studying under the direction of Ken Stein and the Rock Valley College Jazz Band. Greg’s aspirations include completing his music studies at RVC and then transferring to a regional music college. Upon completing his degree, he hopes to successfully lead his own performance group and pursue a career in music education.

Sams completes the group as one of Rockford’s newest premier jazz saxophone talents. He began playing and studying the instrument eight years ago, and has an interest in classical music as well. Evon plays the alto/tenor sax, flute and clarinet. He previously attended Rock Valley College, where he is studied music education and jazz studies under the direction of Stein. Evon is a graduate of the Auburn High School CAPA (Creative and Performing Arts) program and was selected to perform with the All-State Honors Jazz Band his senior year. He has performed with various local area jazz groups, including After5 Jazz, David Thompson, Soundscape, Ben Berdmark Trio and Mark Colby. Evon plans to transfer to Columbia College Chicago or DePaul University in downtown Chicago to continue his studies.

Jazz at Emerson” is held one Thursday per month, 5:30-7 p.m., at the Emerson House in the heart of Rockford’s cultural corridor. Concertgoers can enjoy the swinging sounds of jazz, relax with a glass of wine and light refreshments, and meet the performers after the program. Doors open at 5 p.m. Seating is limited. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for students. Proceeds will benefit the musicians and the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center.

Posted July 17, 2013

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