Millikin Jazz Band

Valentine’s Day Performance

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Millikin Jazz Band

Athena Pajer

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Millikin’s jazz band is a 55-year-old characteristic of Decatur’s culture. On Friday, Feb. 9, the band put on a special performance at the Decatur Club.

This change of venue marks a significant off-campus showcase of Millikin’s talent.

“We are trying to become more engaged with the community,” Randy Reyman, the Director of Jazz Activities, said to a room filled with couples dressed in black, white, and red from around the Decatur area.

The Decatur Club, located in the Decatur’s historic district, was established in 1883, and has been an important site for a variety of events in the region. Today, it remains a high-profile setting for performances. If Reyman hopes to reach out more to the surrounding area, the Decatur Club would be the ideal place to perform.

Couples who enjoy Jazz came to see Millikin’s talented musicians, who in turn performed nine songs arranged specifically for pre-Valentine’s day, meaning that they all were about love.

The first song, for instance, titled “I Love You,” featured Leon Lewis-Nicol on the piano. The second song, “My Romance,” featured trumpet player Trevor Stout.

The audience also had the chance to hear Judge Thomas Little, Macon County’s resident circuit judge, play the trombone. Little, a former member of the Millikin Jazz Band, a lifetime musician, and an upstanding member of the Decatur Community, subbed-in for another trombonist who was busy playing at “Nina: La Storia Nascosta” at Millikin the same night.

“Many a sinner has played himself to heaven on the trombone” Reyman said, quoting a Facebook post that made him think of Little.

Little, however, did not solo. The soloist on trombone that evening was John Robinson, featuring in a jazz waltz titled, “Emily.” Though entirely instrumental, the song was about a man professing his love for a girl named Emily. One could understand the emotion one would feel when falling for a girl named Emily when listening to Robinson’s solo.

Several of the songs were about situations or the overall feelings of love, but two of the songs in the set list, including “Emily,” were written for specific people.

John Coltrane, one of the most significant and influential Jazz composers of all time, who also wrote the previous song, “Naima,” also wrote the song for a specific person: his wife, Juanita Naima Grubbs. Reyman described the song as “hauntingly beautiful,” and it featured Max Dragoo on guitar.

The rest of the songs included vocalist Angel Spiccia, a Millikin Alumna who enjoys returning as a frequent guest with the Millikin Jazz Band. Spiccia began her performance by featuring in the third song on the set list: “Almost Like Being in Love.”

Spiccia then performed the next two songs, which Reyman arranged, titled, “My One and Only Love,” a ballad, and “My Funny Valentine.”

One of the most memorable moments was during “My Funny Valentine” when Spiccia and Robinson synchronized scatting and trumpet. The song also included stunning solos by both musicians.

Spiccia impressed the audience several other times throughout the night.

Before beginning the eighth song on the playlist, “Come Rain or Come Shine,” Reyman mentioned that Spiccia seemed to enjoy singing this song in the past. The following performance was jaw-dropping.

Spiccia’s skilled vocals filled every inch of the ballroom. The audience could tell that she truly did enjoy singing the song. Her enthusiasm translated well into the piece, helping the song form a lasting impact in the audience members’ minds.

The ticket included more than just dinner, dessert, and music. This was a performance that only the Millikin Jazz Band could offer, and the show provided a change of pace and setting that the surrounding community enjoyed.

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