Q&A: ‘Jazz Goes Grunge’ at the UCA

Hunter Goddard

April flowers bring May showers, and with Colorado more like Washington every day, a Seattle subgenre comes to the UCA: grunge.

The Griffin Concert Hall presents Monday night’s virtuoso series concert, “Jazz Goes Grunge,” with Shilo Stroman on percussion and Peter Sommer playing saxophone. The production begins at 7:30 and tickets cost $7 for CSU students.

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Peter Sommer has been an associate professor of saxophone jazz at CSU since 2003. He went to high school with Shilo Stroman, the two of them having known each other and played together for 25 years.

“We were in high school in the early 1990s, during the heyday of grunge,” Sommer said. “It wasn’t the only thing I listened to, but it was something that was everywhere. This show is all about finding a way to connect to some music from our younger days.”

Jeff Jenkins is a musician from Denver who will be accompanying Sommer and Stroman on the jazz organ, and Dave Devine is a Denver guitarist who will be joining the quartet as well. According to Sommer, he arranged the music in such a way that his sax replaces the vocals.

“We’re playing tunes by Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains,” Sommer said. “There’s more improvisation involved than what you hear in the three-minute songs on the radio, and you learn a lot about an individual personality through their artistic expression.”

Sommer said the arrangements are meant to be recognizable and accessible to fans of both genres, and also to fans of music in general.

As for Stroman, he has his master’s degree from CSU and he has been teaching here since 2008. He has played the drum set and bass guitar professionally for jazz, salsa, rock and funk groups. He sat down with the Collegian to talk about the upcoming concert.

What inspires you to do the work that you do with music?

I’ve wanted to be in music since the seventh grade at Windsor Middle School. I had a great band director and awesome private teachers as well. I’ve been inspired to give back and share music ever since.

What’s different about this concert from anything else you’ve worked on before?

Well, it’s music not often associated with jazz. It was a bit of a challenge to arrange it for this style and instrumentation.

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What can audiences expect to take away from the experience of coming to see it?

Jazz musicians can rock, too. Jazz musicians have always taken music of their time period, or, in this case, music from our youth, and adapted it.

What have you taken away, personally or professionally, from the experience of putting it together?

I’ve taken away new arranging techniques and fun performing with a guitarist I’ve never worked with. Playing with new people in a new configuration is always fun and adventurous.

What do you envision your future to be with music?

I’ll continue working in the same areas I’ve already been working in. I’d also like to do way more producing, composing and recording.

Collegian A&E Writer Hunter Goddard can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @hunter_gaga.