Usually, Thursday nights at Jazz Central are reserved for vocal performances. This week there’s an exception — the young lions of Dark Blue take over the bandstand, playing original compositions and arrangements that belie their youth. Led by Thomas Strommen, Dark Blue has played together for the past four years, and includes guitarist Dylan Nelson, bassist Jason McLean, and drummer Alex Burgess. All have connections to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
Saxophonist Thomas Strommen is in his third year of jazz studies, starting out at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where he studied with David Milne, and now finishing his degree at the University of Minnesota where he studies with Dean Sorenson. Playing saxophone since sixth grade, over the years Thomas studied with Greg Keel, Bryan Nichols, Adam Linz, Phil Hey, and the faculty of the Shell Lake Jazz Camp, as well as with instructors at Wayzata High School. During his senior year of high school, Thomas was selected as a member of the Dakota Combo. Barely into his college studies, Thomas began playing with trumpeter and veteran bandleader Steve Kenny in Group 47, which released its debut Straight to Vinyl in 2014 and continues to perform throughout the Twin Cities. Thomas also performs with his quartet in addition to Dark Blue, and was the recent Featured Artist at Jazz Central.
Guitarist Dylan Nelson is a spring 2015 graduate of UW-River Falls where he majored in music and minored in psychology. In addition to Dark Blue, he has played in the improvisation collective Grüve Trüpe, in the UWRF Falcon Band, and in the bluegrass band, Walter Croll and Friends
Bassist Jason McLean attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and plays with other bands including the indie group Red Nightfall. He works at Brickhouse Music in River Falls and taught in the rock band camp at Shell Lake Art Center this past summer.
Alex Burgess is known as a very dynamic drummer. A student at UW-River Falls, he studies drums with Craig Hara and composition with David Milne. In addition to Dark Blue, he’s a member of Steve Kenny’s Group 47, Bad Habits Brass, Grüve Trüpe, Walter Croll and Friends, and other working jazz and commercial ensembles. Alex teaches drums at Brickhouse Music in River Falls.
Jazz Central Studios is located at 407 Central Av SE in Minneapolis. The nonprofit venue hosts jazz at least five nights per week (Monday-Friday). A $10 donation is suggested to support the musicians and the venue. Full schedule at http://jazzcentralstudios.org