NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

NECC Jazz/Rock Ensemble performs

Five music students make up the NECC Jazz/Rock Ensemble. Directed by music professor Mike Lecuyer, the Ensemble performed a concert on Thursday, Dec. 10 in the auditorium of the Hartleb Technology Center.

“This is the best group I’ve ever worked with,” said Lecuyer to the two dozen or so audience members. “I’ve never seen a group work harder and practice more and really embrace the spirit that is jazz music.”

Self-taught musician Ab Torres has been playing the piano since 2011. He favored classical music for most of that time, but is glad that he was invited into the jazz ensemble by the other musicians. He plays both the piano and the keyboards with the band and has really embraced the experience.

The group played nine jazz standards and the concert lasted about an hour. The group’s final song of the evening was “The Christmas Song” by Bob Wells and Mel Torme, arranged by Torres himself for the occasion, which the audience thoroughly enjoyed.

Sean Lavigne is a music major who has been playing the electric guitar for about seven years, but he got his start playing the baritone horn in his high school’s marching band. “It’s kind of like a mix between a trumpet and a tuba,” said Lavigne.

Drummer and percussionist Dominic Marraffa said that he always had a drum kit since he was a kid, but lacked the motivation to really learn how to play at first. After a life changing event, he decided it was time to make some goals and started taking lessons about a year ago.

“I knew I needed goals and something to drive towards so I started taking lessons and it changed my life entirely,” Marraffa said. “I practice for hours every day.” Unfortunately, he admits, he had to rent a storage unit to practice in.

“This is my first semester actually taking lessons,” said bass guitarist Richard Wildes, despite his experience playing the bass and electric guitar and dabbling with other instruments for about five years. He thinks the music department is really good and is surprised by how much he is getting out of it.

“Especially when you get to play with a bunch of nice young lads like these,” he joked.

The second drummer/percussionist in the group is Micah Puello, who said that he’s dabbled with drums, guitar and the piano but was mostly self-taught until coming to NECC.

“I’ve been playing with these guys and I’ve learned a substantial amount more,” he said, “and I’ve been turned on to the genre of jazz, which I’m really happy about, because it’s some great music.”

Lavigne said that his favorite part about being in the music department is meeting great musicians. “I’m in a band now with these guys, and that would have never happened if it wasn’t for this jazz ensemble.”

“One of the best ways to learn, I’ve found, is to surround yourself with people that are better than you. So I’ve accomplished that,” Wildes laughed, “and it has helped me significantly.”