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The Scarlet & Black

Zodiac Trio makes stars in sebring

New York-based jazz group, The Zodiac Trio, gave a performance Sunday night in Sebring-Lewis Hall to an audience of around 25 people, as part of their seven-stop tour of Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.
The group—comprised of bassist Karl McComas-Reichl, drummer Colin Stranahan and pianist Glenn Zaleski—delivered a technically dazzling and aesthetically appealing, 90-minute set of original and standard jazz pieces.

Lecturer John Kizilarmut, Music, met McComas-Reichl professionally, which introduced him to the group and ultimately brought The Zodiac Trio to campus for Sunday night’s concert. Kizilarmut sees the group as actively challenging the rules and conventions of the jazz genre.

“They really push the boundaries of conventional music-making,” Kizilarmut said. “It’s an extremely challenging way to play music.”

This description was certainly appropriate on Sunday, as the group gave a remarkable performance, pushing the limits of harmony seemingly to a breaking point, only to reign themselves in at the last possible moment.

The group’s performance was anchored by McComas-Reichl and Stranahan, who worked with remarkable cohesion, the former pounding out the wandering bass lines that provide a backbone for the group’s sound, while the latter matched him beat-for-beat, his sticks roaming swiftly around his drum set, delivering frenetic, irregular strokes of accompaniment. Over this foundation, Zaleski competently laid sweeping sequences of piano notes, creating an array of musical moods ranging from melancholic to hysterical.

The entire group displayed a sense of comfort and synchrony that could only be the result of rigorous rehearsal, yet managed to infuse their music with an exciting quality of improvisation. Kizilarmut sees this natural, improvised style as the defining characteristic of the group’s sound.

“[They play] in a way that, even though there are all sorts of complicated things going on, the end product is extremely organic,” Kizilarmut said.

The trio that played on Sunday is in fact only the rhythm section of a larger group, The Zodiac Ensemble, formed just last year by McComas-Reichl, with fellow Stevens Point, Wisc. natives Aaron Kruziki and Mike Bjella.

According to Kizilarmut, the ensemble has recently finished recording for its debut album, which now only needs to be mastered before it can be released. Those who enjoyed Sunday night’s concert should keep their eye out for this project.

News and music are available on the ensemble’s website,

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