Kaitlyn Clay

Jazz pianist Paul Johnston joined local musicians to perform as part of the Jomie Jazz Artist Series Wednesday in the Jomie Jazz Center.

The Jomie Jazz Artist Series performed its first concert of the semester Wednesday in the Jomie Jazz Center with special guest Paul Johnston.

Johnston is associate professor of jazz studies and jazz piano at Eastern Illinois University.

Jeff Wolfe, professor of jazz studies and music technology at Marshall University, said this program sets Marshall aside from other schools.

“We are lucky to have this program,” Wolfe said. “A lot of larger jazz studies programs at other universities don’t have an on-going series like this where we can bring in major jazz artists or major jazz educators, or sometimes both, if they are the same person, to the campus. We are lucky to have the resources and the people to make these things happen.”

Johnston performed original pieces along with songs by other composers with the help of Steve Heffner, bass, Steve Hall, drums, and Wolf, trumpet. They performed “Blues for Megan,” “June 2014” and “New Day” composed by Johnston. They also performed “Time After Time” by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn, “317 East 32nd Street” by Lennie Tristano, “A Child is Born” by Thad Jones and “Groovin’ High” by Dizzy Gillespie.

Johnston said his love for jazz music began in sixth grade when he played with his middle school jazz band. The encouragement he received from teachers and years of performance helped him to pursue his career in music.

“This is a great opportunity for students to get to meet some different artists and hear them play and hear them talk about what they do,” Johnston said.

Jazz artists are brought to Marshall every year through the jazz studies program for the jazz series, Wolfe said. The guests teach and observe master classes for two days. To end their visit, the artists perform a concert.

The jazz series will have its second concert at 7:30 p.m. March 11 and its third concert March 25, both at the Jomie Jazz Center.

Mikaela Keener can be contacted at [email protected].