'Berg Jazz Combo a big hit in downtown Tiffin

Apr 30, 2012

The cool vibe of a metro coffee shop has arrived in Tiffin. The Heidelberg Student Jazz Combo – a group of four to eight musicians – now has a regular Thursday night gig at Bailiwick’s, a new coffee shop at the corner of Washington and Perry streets.

The Jazz Combo“It kind of happened by accident,” said one of the performers, senior Collin Stump. “We stopped in (to Bailiwick’s) one day and talked to some people and they said they wanted some live performances, so it sort of spawned from there.”

The Jazz Combo’s performances – there have been several so far at the coffee house, the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library and Red Raven in downtown Tiffin – seem to have caught on. The musicians come from the larger Heidelberg Jazz Ensemble. Scott Kretzer, a new part-time faculty member in the School of Music this year, has worked hard at finding off-campus locations for the combo to play, said Dr. John Owen.

“As people get more enthusiastic, we’re hoping that next year the combo will evolve into two,” he said.

The spontaneous nature of the jazz combo makes it fun for the musicians, who play off of each other and interact with the audience. “There ends up being tons of improvisation, not only with the music but outside of it,” Collin said. Combo member Lucas Walter, a senior, added: “The last time, we just ended up (our set) with a jam session. It was a lot of fun.”

Not only is the combo representing Heidelberg in the community, they’re learning valuable lessons about performing, John said. “This is the traditional way to learn to play jazz,” he said. “They learn what works and what doesn’t work and they have time to explore. I’m really pleased with the way the combos have worked this year.”

“Once people hear you, doors start to open.”

At this point, the combo plans to continue the Bailiwick’s gig on Thursday nights throughout the summer with a combo comprised of a keyboard player, two saxophone players, one pianist and one bassist. If all goes as planned, additional dates will be booked in more local establishments next year.

“It’s neat to create performance opportunities for people who don’t play jazz,” Lucas said. “We’re having a great time with it.”