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Combo rehearses on Thursday morning. From left to right: Tom Kelly, Sam Kelly, Robby Mack, Rob Osiol.

By Sharon Lee
Executive Features Editor

It has been a while since junior Robby Mack has been able to sleep in on a Thursday late arrival. Although he knows everyone else is sleeping in and he could be finishing up his homework, Mack chooses to rehearse jazz music with his combo group.

“Combo is worth it,” Mack said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

The group was formed by Patrick O’Connor, Coordinator of Fine and Performing Arts, after a number of ambitious jazz students wanted to branch off the larger jazz groups to form a combo group with a select number of students.

According to O’Connor, this is the first year in a while that students have been interested in doing a combo. The group is made up of Mack, junior Rob Osiol, junior Tom Kelly and senior Sam Kelly.

“We all really enjoy music, and we want to pursue it at a higher level,” Mack said. “Being in a combo group gives you more opportunities to solo and be more artistic. You don’t have to do just what’s on the page.”

“I love being able to express myself, which I am not able to do in regular concert band,” Mack said. “Combo gives me the most freedom I’ve ever had with any musical group.”

Tom said that the members have whatever freedom they want because they run the group themselves. O’Connor mostly helps them get into festivals, but they rehearse on their own, deciding what to play and how to play it stylistically.

“They’re really the ones that Are keeping the group going,” O’Connor said.

The combo has played at the orchestra and jazz fall concert and has played at district and Harper art shows.  According to O’Connor, the group also does side jobs in the community.

“Because of insurance purposes, they can’t be tied to the school, but they do a ton of that stuff on their own not representing Prospect, but just being involved and playing music in the community,” O’Connor said.

After handing out business cards with their information on it at each gig, the group started receiving e-mails from people requesting different performances. According to Mack, it became a tumble effect.

“[As a result,] we have played anywhere from people’s backyards to the Northwest Community Hospital 50th Anniversary Gala,” Osiol said. “We get around.”

To watch a video of the Combo performing at EIU, click this link: Prospect Jazz Band Combo EIU All the Things You Are