By Jackie Park
On Jan. 28, the 60th Grammy Awards will take place. Among the nominees are Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge, a jazz group based out of central Florida. Three alumni of Appalachian State’s Hayes School of Music are members of this ensemble.
Jay Coble, who graduated in 1981 and plays trumpet, Jack Wilkins, who graduated in 1982 and plays tenor saxophone and Matt Vance, who graduated in 1991 and plays baritone saxophone, are the nominated alumni.
“Whispers on the Wind” is the sixth CD released by Chuck Owen and the Jazz Surge, and it received nominations for Best Improvised Jazz Solo in the song “Can’t Remember Why,” Best Large Jazz Ensemble, Best Instrumental Composition and Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella for “Warped Cowboy” and “All Hat, No Saddle.”
Jon Beebe, a music professor at App, was Matt Vance’s bassoon instructor during his time at Appalachian State and had interactions with both Coble and Wilkins as well.
“Matt began his studies as a freshman music performance major in 1986, the same year I began teaching at App. He was a student in my freshman music theory/aural skills class and quickly distinguished himself as an extraordinary student and musician,” Beebe said via email. “Jay Coble graduated before my arrival in 1986, but I met him during one of his visits ‘home.’ Jack Wilkins was the Director of Jazz Studies during my first few years here. We collaborated some before his move to USF.”
This is not the first time Appalachian’s Hayes School of Music has produced award-winning musicians. In 2016, Phillip Riggs, class of 1988, won the GRAMMY Music Educator of the Year.
“As HSOM alumni are excelling in various musical capacities all over the country and even overseas, a symbiotic relationship has developed as these alumni’s accomplishments help to attract more gifted students, which in turn further enhances the quality of our musical products, attracting even more highly qualified students. Everything continues to spiral upward,” Beebe said.
“The Hayes School of Music is a vibrant and exciting musical family that, in addition to training musicians for careers as performers, educators, music therapists and industry professionals, presents more than 150 concerts and recitals every year, featuring many genres and styles of music, for the benefit and enjoyment of the campus and surrounding area. I encourage everyone to take advantage of our offerings,” Beebe said.