ST. CHARLES – Three St. Charles high school graduates are coming home to perform a Christmas jazz concert in the hope of sharing their jazz education with the audience in a fun, meaningful way.
The Alex Murphy Trio, composed of 19-year-olds Alex Murphy on piano, Mary Halm on bass and Jeremy Benshish on drums/cymbals, will perform “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at 7 p.m. Dec. 22 at the Vero Voce School of Music, 951 State Ave., St. Charles.
Murphy and Halm, graduates of St. Charles East High School, and Benshish, a graduate of St. Charles North High School, are sophomores and scholarship musicians at DePaul University. The friends have played together the past four years, from high school weekend gigs at Szechwan Restaurant in St. Charles to regular jam sessions at the Chicago Bagel Authority in Lakeview today.
The trio found that in Chicago, it’s common for jazz artists to cover an influential album that had a major impact on the jazz scene, Murphy said, which is how the group came up with its holiday concert theme.
While your mind might not connect jazz with the popular 1965 movie “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” the music was composed by pianist Vince Guaraldi, “an unsung hero of a lot of jazz musicians,” Murphy said.
“This album always comes up as a great example of jazz being applied to something we all love, which is Christmas music,” Murphy said.
When the trio plays their version of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” – which will remain true to Guaraldi’s style, with the teens’ own twist – the audience will immediately recognize the music.
“We’ll be playing jazz music that kind of brings back good memories,” Benshish said.
On a personal level, the album holds special meaning for the trio.
“That was the first jazz I ever played,” Murphy said. “It’s one of those albums that gets people into jazz. It’s Christmas music; it’s something that everyone gets into.”
Being able to perform in front of a hometown audience is especially exciting, Halm said.
“It’s nice because all of our parents still live here,” she said. “We have nice pockets of friends here. It’s fun to invite people who helped us out and encouraged us.”
“We’re really trying to remember where we came from because it’s always important to remember where you started and pay tribute to the environment you grew up in,” Murphy said.
Tickets cost $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students with a valid student ID. To buy tickets or learn more, visit verovoce.com/live-theatre.