A popular old saying goes something like this: "Those who can, do, while those who can't, teach."
Anyone who believes that, has never caught a performance by the Jeff Brown Trio, a red hot jazz act comprised of three highly respected music professors from Valparaiso University. These gents can very much "DO," as well as teach.
Band leader-percussionist Jeff Brown has been keeping the beat alongside his musical colleagues, pianist Billy Foster and bassist Bruce Evans, for a long time.
"We all knew each other way before any of us worked at the university," said Brown, the V.U. Coordinator of Jazz Studies and Director of the school's Jazz Lab Band.
"We got to know each other from jam sessions at local clubs and at different folks' houses. Jazz musicians generally run in the same circles and if you play long enough, you eventually get to know pretty much everyone."
Playing out an average of eight to 10 gigs a month, the trio be-bop all over the region, from nightclubs and lounges, to weddings, holiday parties, conventions and corporate functions.
Although many performances are private events, the JBT have had a longstanding Thursday night gig at Pesto's Italian Restaurant since 2003.
"It's laid back and we have a lot of fun. We play standards and take a lot of requests from people," Brown said.
"Since we're a classic trio configuration of piano, bass and drums, we can adapt to a number of styles," Brown said.
"We do everything from swing, to blues, to big band numbers ... and a lot of what I'd call 'standards,' by composers like Duke Ellington and Cole Porter."
These same three men also perform as The Valparaiso University Faculty Jazz Trio, when they travel to other universities and colleges across the country, representing our region at jazz music events. As the VU Faculty Jazz Trio, they recorded a 10-song CD in 2002 titled, "For the Moment," comprised largely of original compositions.
Evans, Foster and Brown also have performed with various symphony orchestras over the years and have served as backing ensemble to such major jazz artists as Slide Hampton, Clark Terry, Art Farmer, James Moody and others.
Brown even finds time to steer a project called, "Brown's Music Bus," that visits local school for convocations, introducing and educating students in grades K-12 about popular American music from post-WWII jazz and blues, to rock 'n' roll, disco, country, R&B and, yes, even a little hip-hop like Outkast's "Hey Ya!"
But the electrifying adventures of the fast-paced "Brown's Music Bus" is a feature story unto itself that one day soon will have to be written by this journalist.
The opinions expressed solely are those of the writer. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Jeff Brown Trio
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays
Where: Pesto's Italian Restaurant, 3123 Calumet Ave., Valparaiso
FYI: (219) 462-0993 or www.jeffreybrown.com