Columbus Jazz Orchestra holiday show this Sunday

November 15, 2018

By day, Tim Matas and Carl Hart Jr. face off against each other in court as Platte County public defender and Platte County attorney. But by night, the two perform together in the Columbus Jazz Orchestra.

The group’s annual Christmas performance is at 6 p.m. this Sunday at Maximus Restaurant & Sports Bar, 329 23rd St in Columbus. Matas is the group’s lead trombonist and Hart plays the trumpet.

“We’re adversaries in the courtroom and fellow musicians in the band,” said Hart, who noted he has been playing trumpet with the group since around 2000. “And we don’t let the job get in the way of having fun.”

The group will perform 20 songs, half being traditional big band music and the rest contemporary holiday classics. Band Director Keith Byrkit said the setlist includes “Winter Wonderland,” “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” “Feliz Navidad” and “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

Brykit is a retired music teacher and has been playing the keyboard with the group for about six years. The band dates back to the ’80s and is currently comprised of 17 members. Brykit said the age range of its members goes from 18 to about 70.

“The people in the group, everyone gets along well and it’s fun to go play with them,” Byrkit said. “We all just come out to play and have a good time, we all enjoy jazz.”

Stuart Gausman is a foreman at Mead Lumber and serves as the band’s lead alto saxophone player. He’s been playing off and on with the orchestra since the mid-1990s when he was a student at Columbus High School.

“I have fewer and fewer outlets to play as I get busier and busier in life,” Gausman said. “I love the music that we play, which I think is important to everyone in the band.”

Matas has been playing with the group for eight years. He said he played all throughout high school and college and appreciates the opportunity to continue doing something he loves.

“Music has always been a big part of my life,” Matas said. “Playing with the band is a fun way for me to keep on playing.”

Gausman said music can bring all sorts of people together, such as Hart and Matas.

“They’re still bandmates and good friends,” Gausman said about the two. “It’s the type of thing music can do, it can bring people together.”

The orchestra performs about a dozen times a year. Byrkit encourages everyone to come out for this weekend’s holiday show.

“If they enjoy big band music, jazz,” Byrkit said. “Come on out. It’s a good place to relax, get something to eat, and enjoy some good music.”

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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