Knox Jazz Musicians Win Awards at Elmhurst Festival

March 01, 2013

Knox Jazz Ensemble

The Knox College Jazz Ensemble and the Knox Cherry Street Combo recently returned to campus with several awards from the annual Elmhurst College Jazz Festival, which attracts some of the country's best college jazz bands.

The festival took place February 21-24 and drew a total of 38 college and university jazz ensembles.

The Knox Cherry Street Combo was awarded one of four "outstanding combo" awards at the festival. All four Cherry Street Combo members -- Jake Hawrylak, Josh Calef, Nate Beck, and Kyle Kunkler -- received individual soloist awards.

The outstanding combo award is a first for Knox, said Nikki Malley, assistant professor of music and director of the Knox Jazz Ensemble.

Hawrylak also was selected for a second individual solo award for his featured performance on guitar with the Knox Jazz Ensemble.

Malley said Knox's success at the festival is a tribute to the talent and hard work of students. (Photo at top: The Knox Jazz Ensemble performs in Kresge Recital Hall. Video at right: The Knox Cherry Street Combo performs "Bottomless" by Nate Beck.)

"The four students in this (combo) group are doing something really special. Our top combo here is always outstanding, but they've got something almost magical," she said, pointing out that combo members composed all three pieces they performed at the festival.

"Our students at Knox are getting a jazz performance experience here that parallels something that you'd get at a large conservatory, but they also get all the perks of being at Knox," she added. "Our students are taking philosophy classes and doing this (performing jazz), and they're taking pre-med classes and doing this. It speaks well to the dedication of our students that they're performing at the level of students whose sole job is to perform."

Hawrylak said he enjoys learning about jazz "in all forms."

"I was drawn to the big band initially because I just like the idea of playing in a group of musicians who all come together to make something that speaks louder than each of their individual efforts," he said. "The biggest pleasure in playing with the combo this year is that more than ever, we're all very driven and very focused on playing jazz and even more than that, on trying to find our own way."

"When you're really swinging, there's a certain energy. It's awesome," Calef added. "We have some talented and inspired individuals here, and I'm pleased to be working with them."

Here are the names, instruments, and hometowns of the Knox students who are in the Cherry Street Combo and the Knox Jazz Ensemble

Cherry Street Combo, directed by Dave Hoffman
Nate Beck, trumpet, Stillman Valley, Illinois
Kyle Kunkler, piano, Downers Grove, Illinois
Jake Hawrylak, bass, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Josh Calef, drums, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Knox Jazz Ensemble, directed by Nikki Malley
Ivan Keta, lead alto sax, Westmont, Illinois
Stephanie Hawes, 2nd alto sax, Cedar Park, Texas
Annaliese Lengerich, lead tenor sax and soprano sax, Wauconda, Illinois
Lily Gaetgaeow, 2nd tenor sax and clarinet, Nonthabur, Thailand
Payton Rose, 2nd tenor sax, Centennial, Colorado
Nate Moore, baritone sax, Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Mike Supej, lead trombone, Oswego, Illinois
Timmy Connor, 2nd trombone, Schaumburg, Illinois
Will Dowling, 3rd trombone, Middleton, Wisconsin
Nate Beck, 4th trombone, Stillman Valley, Illinois
David Gentry, bass trombone, Waukesha, Wisconsin
Kailee Gawlik, lead trumpet, Manhattan, Illinois
Nick Wagner, 2nd trumpet, Lockport, Illinois
Leslie Carman, 3rd trumpet, Gilson, Illinois
Sakiko Nomura, 3rd/4th trumpet, Kariya-shi-Aichi, Japan
Linda Sanabria, 3rd/4th trumpet, Altus, Oklahoma
Matt Timmerberg, 4th/5th trumpet, Naperville, Illinois
Anna Kraemer, piano, West Des Moines, Iowa
Kyle Kunkler, piano, Downers Grove, Illinois
Jillian Somera, guitar, Yigo, Guam
Jake Hawrylak, guitar and bass, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Ryan Paulus, bass, Jacksonville, Illinois
Josh Calef, drums, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ben Kammerer, drums and vibraphone, Omaha, Nebraska
Lauren Peper, vocals, Bloomington, Minnesota