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Jazz Band Performs at the Levitt Shell

Publication Date: 9/25/2013

Located in Overton Park, just across the street from campus, the Levitt Shell presents more than 50 free concerts a year, ranging from blues to pop to world-class opera. One of the highlights of the season has become Rhodes Night at the Levitt Shell, which is sponsored by the Mike Curb Institute for Music at Rhodes College. The Curb Institute aims to foster a relationship between Rhodes student musicians and the Memphis music community, and, together with the college, partnered with the Levitt Shell to put on the event.
This year’s concert featured the Rhodes Faculty Jazz Band, the Rhodes Jazz Band, and guest artist Earlice Taylor. The evening began with a set by the jazz band, where special guest and saxophone player President Troutt joined them.

“It was absolutely amazing,” said Matt Hicks ’15, who plays trumpet in the jazz band. “The crowd was way cool to all of us, and I know that all of the musicians up on the stage appreciated every bit of it.”

After the jazz band finished their set, Matt and senior Alex Piazza joined a small group consisting of Rhodes professors (including Dr. John Bass, the Program Manager for the Curb Institute), alumni, and professional musicians to perform original compositions. Alex, a trombone and bass player in the jazz band, had the opportunity to play some of his original work for a broader audience.

“This was my first time performing a totally original piece with an ensemble of professional musicians,” he said. “To do it at the Shell was too much for words.”

The evening was capped off when lovely vocalist Earlice Taylor joined the ensemble, where she performed traditional jazz hits as well as a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

Of course, the night would have been much different without the Curb Institute and the Memphis community behind the musicians. Both Matt and Alex appreciate the city’s music scene in general, which, according to Matt, fosters “a mutual appreciation between the musicians and their audience.”

“The musicians I encounter are incredibly encouraging and enthusiastic toward young musicians and look to include them in the ‘scene’ as much as possible,” Alex said. “Living in Memphis has allowed me to essentially begin a professional career as a musician while still in school.”

The students are both very thankful for the Levitt Shell and especially the Curb Institute for acting as a platform to show their talent. “The Shell has been awesome to host us over the past couple of years,” Matt said. “The venue is really extraordinary.”

Alex’s thanks can be summed up simply: “My face was sore afterwards from smiling so much on stage.”


Students Matt Hicks (left, with trombone) and Alex Piazza (with bass) perform at the Levitt Shell.

All photos by Justin Fox Burks



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