On a typical day at the end of August, most people on campus trudged through the mugginess of yet another hot and humid afternoon. For those who found themselves in the Quad, however, they noticed a new mood forming in the air.
Psst psst psst, crash crash, crash. Joel Ziener, a senior majoring in music and the drummer for the Phat Cats Jazz Group, reenergized the air. The hustle and bustle common in the Quad soon melted away in a cool and soothing stream of notes that flowed from a saxophone played by senior Brian Keller. Nick Faust, also a senior, strummed the bass guitar along with his brother and fellow senior Chad Faust, both giving a deep and edgy charm to the group.
The four are all students here at Fort Hays State University and are as unique as the instruments they play, forming their group The Phat Cat Jazz group, which was formed and directed by assistant professor of trumpet and jazz studies Brad Dawson. Not only did he direct the group, but Dawson also joined in on the trumpet.
“Most of the time we play in coffee shops more than we do on campus, but when we do, we play lots of dinner music for the Alumni. But tonight was an exception,” C. Faust said. Wednesday was the Phat Cats’ first open-air performance. The group’s performance started at 6:30 p.m. and flowed to 9 p.m.
“Tonight was one of our best performances, since we mostly play at coffee shops as background music. It was great to play here on the Quad because it was a totally different atmosphere,” Keller said. “We enjoyed the spotlight and hope our audience took the opportunity to listen to jazz because it’s more than they think.”
“It has lots of rhythms from Latin, blues and samba influences that people would enjoy listening to,” Ziener said.
N. Faust expressed his feelings about his fellow musicians and how important it is to work as a team. “ I like playing the bass, but I enjoy it more whenever I play with Chad because whenever you play with somebody, you more easily pick up by yourself. You just got to have the right guys that have strong support for you.”
His brother C. Faust enjoys playing because it is an escape from the ordinary routine. Yet he believes that, by being involved with people and active in what you like to do, it teaches you many things that contribute to the real world. Last Wednesday’s performance was attended not only by students but also by locals from the Hays community.
Keller, N. Faust, C. Faust and Ziener also play a similar genre for an outside-campus band called Kashed, which is influenced more by funk and blues but is just as fun as Phat Cats Jazz.
The Phat Cats concluded their performance by mellowing things down with a charming ballad and ending the spectacle with a bang with “Mr. P.C.” by John Coltrane.