Grammy winners share lessons at Marietta College

Local students in joint performance

Photo by Janelle Patterson From left to right, Jay Jennings, Kamryn Stanton and Logan Reynolds groove together in rehearsal Tuesday at Marietta College in preparation for Wednesday’s joint performance with Snarky Horns from Snarky Puppy at the Gathering Place.

MARIETTA — Likening the groove in rehearsal to a train, Grammy Award recipients coached Marietta College’s jazz ensemble through improvisation and musical communication Tuesday.

“Just in the same way we speak, music is the same development of our vocabulary,” explained Chris Bullock as he guided the ensemble through improv within limits.

“You want to be comfortable enough harmonically to be able to play what you feel using that vocabulary,” added Jay Jennings.

Bullock and Jennings are two members of the visiting Snarky Horns, a subset of Snarky Puppy–a jazz/funk/global collective band which has taken up residence in the Mid-Ohio Valley on a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to Marietta College.

“What an incredible opportunity this has been for the students,” said Marshall Kimball, Marietta College music department chair and the director of bands and instrumental activities. “Monday they worked with the PHS and Warren jazz bands and the Parkersburg South band and then came back and gave a presentation on marketing your art and then have spent time in the recording studio with students and with our funk group we gathered specifically for this visit–I have never seen kids have so much freaking fun in my life. This is an experience you’d never get at a larger university to be recording and getting guidance from four Grammy Award-winning musicians.”

Photo by Janelle Patterson Chris Bullock, right, demonstrates adjustments to jazz playing for bassist Ryan McGuiness during rehearsal at Marietta College Tuesday.

Both the feedback and encouragement were humbling and inspiring for senior Logan Reynolds, 22, of Vincent, he said.

“Really nice phrasing,” Jennings called out to Reynolds as the college’s jazz ensemble rehearsed Tuesday. “I have to say I really dug your solo.”

“But it’s also humbling to get called out by these guys,” Reynolds recalled after the rehearsal. “Here are these professionals providing constructive criticism in a genre that I listen to and love and has been a part of my family not only with my maternal grandfather who was a professional tenor saxophone player but continues in me and my siblings and we’ll all get to perform with them.”

Jennings and Bullock left the jazz group with several pieces of advice by the end of rehearsal Tuesday, notes like developing a relationship with pianos and simplifying tunes to own the improvised changes.

“We’re here to share what it is we do as professionals and to share that there is truly a way to do this in life after college,” explained Jennings.

Photo by Janelle Patterson Logan Reynolds, left, and David Torbett rehearse jazz and blues melodies.

“There’s a lot of variety in what we do and how we got here as full-time musicians,” added Bullock. “But it’s important to go where what you want to be doing is happening and to be open to learning new things. I’ve recently learned video editing to help promote the work we’re doing. You have to be open to learning from the whole community in music.”

Jennings, 35, is a resident of Los Angeles, Calif., and Bullock, 38, lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.