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Jaspects Plays Old Jazz w/ New Spin

Once again, six bow-tied boys from Morehouse College in Georgia had jazz lovers dancing in the aisles. The talented sextet known as Jaspects returned to Berea College to perform their concert, “A Night in Tunisia,” for an excited crowd.

A Night in Tunisia: Jaspects "redefines all aspects of jazz" for BC

Jaspects is “redefining all aspects of jazz” through its innovative musical style that combines traditional jazz music with hip-hop beats, funk rhythms, gospel tunes and a little ethnic flair. Jaspects has a strong fan base throughout the Southeast and Midwest, but word of the band’s talent is quickly spreading. The group’s critical acclaim earned an invitation to perform at the Ray Charles Tribute in Beverly Hills, Calif. The boys have performed for the likes of Bill Cosby, Yolanda Adams, Quincy Jones and Stevie Wonder. Jaspects also won the “Future of Jazz Competition” held in Atlanta, and was featured in a documentary produced by BET Jazz.

Jaspects, which appeared on Berea’s campus last year and once again in the fall for the sesquicentennial ceremony, performed a variety of jazzy tunes. The band’s set list included renditions of classics such as “A Night in Tunisia,” by Dizzy Gillespie and “In a Sentimental Mood,” by Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. The group spiced up its concert with original compositions like “Caravan,” a tribute to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and “I Think She’s a He,” a comical (and experimental) piece about a man involved with a less-than-beautiful woman. The group also played its jazz-ified versions of modern songs like “Unbreakable” by Alicia Keys and “Unpredictable” by Jamie Foxx.

Senior Marcus Elston emceed the event, opening the show with a brief language lesson. “When I say akwaaba, you say medaase,” Elston told the audience and explained that the words mean “welcome” and “thank you” in Twi, the native language of Ghana.

Elston and other students were inspired to organize the event after traveling to Ghana in January. Elston said that traveling to Ghana “redefined our definition of where this African American art form originated and the people who brought it forth."

Henrietta Opoku, a sophomore and native of Ghana, thoroughly enjoyed the concert. “I liked watching the interaction between the musicians and the audience,” she said. “Everyone was really into it.”

Jaspects will wrap up its spring break tour in Texas this month. The group has just released its sophomore album, “Broadcasting the Definition.” The group’s debut album, “In ‘House’ Sessions,” is available for purchase at the CD Baby Web site.

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