WRITTEN BY: NICK CHARLES
No matter where you are in world, when asked about the origination of Jazz, the thought of Philadelphia pops into many musicians’ heads. Some of the greatest Jazz musicians to ever walk the earth have come out of this great city. Unfortunately, Jazz has been spiraling downward in popularity in the past few decades in the United States.
However, a group of six Temple students hope to keep the tradition of Jazz alive as the next generation of Jazz musicians. They call themselves: The Vibe Plus Five.
Forming in the fall of 2014, The Vibe Plus Five consists of twins Josh Fisher (Vibraphone) and Ethan Fisher (Bass), Chris Lewis (Tenor Saxophone), Panayoitis Dimopoulos (Alto Saxophone), Liam Werner (Trumpet), and Jon Tomaro (Drums) – all of whom are current sophomores, except for Tomaro who is currently a Junior.
The Fisher Twins along with Tomaro grew up playing together in the Kimmel Center Creative Music Program. The three of them all ended up at Temple University studying Jazz. Within the first week of school, Tomaro and the Fishers started jamming together with Warner, Dimopoulos, and Lewis – a group of individuals studying Jazz Performance at Temple.
“Within the first jam session we knew we had something special,” Tomaro said. “We connected as musicians. The feeling is never dull. The feeling was fresh and exciting. Everybody brought something different to the table”.
The sextet started composing their own musical works as well as playing difficult Jazz standards that other Jazz students wouldn’t even attempt.
After playing together for only about four months, the group decided to compete in the PHL Live music competition in the Jazz category.
“We heard about it and decided that it would be a good opportunity to get out and play,” Tomaro said. “We were not expecting any outcome out of it.”
Not only did the Vibe Plus Five have a great performance, they came out on top after placing first in the Jazz category out of seven bands.
The first place prize was a thousand dollars and two days of studio time at the Philadelphia radio station, WRTI. The group also had their original compositions broadcasted on WRTI. Which is a big deal considering WRTI’s prominence in our city, being Philadelphia’s premiere Jazz station.
The Vibe Plus Five continues playing gigs all throughout Philadelphia as well as here at Temple and shows no sign of slowing down.
The group’s ultimate goal is to keep the rich tradition of Jazz alive by putting their own spin on it and by telling stories through their work.
“That’s really what Jazz is all about, and hopefully more people, especially the younger generation will slowly come to realize that by listening to our music,” Tomaro said.