Doug Drewek and CentreJazz make sweet music at upcoming events
Doug Drewek (above, left) has shared the stage with some pretty impressive musicians: he’s played backup for Aretha Franklin and rubbed elbows with members of the North Carolina Symphony. Still, there’s nowhere he’d rather be than in Grant Hall at Centre College, where he teaches clarinet and saxophone and also directs the student jazz band.
“CentreJazz has been one of the most rewarding and challenging ensembles for me to direct, because the students have such a wide range of skill levels and backgrounds, from marching band to garage bands,” says Drewek, who is one of the 21 adjunct instructors in Centre’s music program. “It’s also why I love doing it. I get to draw on my own broad experiences in music to relate to each of them.”
During Family Weekend in September, CentreJazz had the standing-room-only crowd swinging to “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” and James Brown’s “I Feel Good.” The campus community will have two more opportunities to hear Drewek this term: at a concert that features him on Oct. 19 and at the CentreJazz concert on Nov. 16. Both concerts are free and open to the public.
Drewek will be backed up at the October concert by pianist Raleigh Dailey, who has also taught as an adjunct in the music program, as well as by drummer Dave Farris. Drewek has played with each of them, but this will the first time they have all played together.
“I’m anticipating a great musical connection,” he says. “We will be doing jazz and free improvisation, so anything is possible.”
The CentreJazz concert, which counts as a convocation credit for students, also promises to be a great one.
“It is very exciting, since our current instrumentation makes it possible to do an all-R&B concert,” says Drewek. “Not only is the music well-known and accessible to audiences, it is an excellent platform to teach both ensemble and improvisational skills. And the students will be joined by members of The Payback, a Lexington-based band dedicated to the music of James Brown.”
Drewek’s love of music goes back to his childhood in North Carolina.
“In high school, I was the kid in marching band, but I also was in a Ska band that played clubs in downtown Raleigh,” he says. “At sixteen, I got a job working at Marsh Woodwinds. All of the local—and sometimes famous—musicians stopped by, from the North Carolina Symphony players to The Klezmatics to Maceo Parker to Mötley Crüe. I think that exposure really influenced my interest in many different styles of music.”
He eventually ended up in Lexington, where he got his DMA at the University of Kentucky and, 12 years ago, began teaching here at Centre. Though he moved to Cincinnati in 2013, he continues to make the drive to Danville each Wednesday. Nathan Link, chair of the Centre music program, is glad he does.
“We are very fortunate to have such talented, dedicated adjunct instructors as Doug,” says Link. “His enthusiasm and musicianship have always shone through in his work with our students. We’re very much looking forward to his upcoming recital and the chance to see him put his own musical and improvisatory skills on full display.”
If you go:
Doug Drewek Plays Jazz, Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Audrey Gillespie Recital Hall
CentreJazz, Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Old Carnegie
by Sallie Bright
October 12, 2016