The Aggie Music Project, also known as AMP, will perform a free concert at Star Hall on Thursday, Jan. 23. Left-To-Right standing: Max Matzen, Trumpet; Mike Christiansen, Guitar; Todd Fallis, Trombone; Jon Gudmundson, Sax; Greg Wheeler, Sax; Jim Schaub, Bass Guitar. Seated: Jason Nicholson, percussion. [Courtesy photo / Utah State University]

AMP is returning to Moab with a free concert at Star Hall on Thursday, Jan. 23.

The Aggie Music Project, also known as AMP, is a group consisting of Utah State University (USU) jazz faculty who are dedicated to both performing and teaching jazz, blues, rock, funk, rhythm and blues and other contemporary music styles.

AMP’s first public performance was in Moab last March.

The group was founded to explore all types of music, beyond just the fundamentals of jazz and classical. Their mission will help prepare USU students to be more successful in today’s world of music. This concert is a part of a performing art series presented by Utah State’s Caine College of Arts.

Current members of the AMP are guitarist Corey Christiansen, trombonist Todd Fallis, saxophonist Jon Gudmundson, pianist Michael Huff, trumpeter Max Matzen, percussionist Jason Nicholson, bassist Jim Schaub and saxophonist Greg Wheeler.

“We don’t just play classical and jazz music, we do so much more than that,” said Jon Gudmundson, associate professor of saxophone and director of jazz studies. “Jazz and classical music combined amount to about five percent of the music consumed in this country and we didn’t want to limit ourselves.”

Each band member specializes in the trumpet, saxophone, piano, percussion and/or guitar. They also oversee and instruct jazz music and techniques at the Logan campus. While teaching is a passion, performing is what they love best.

“We are all seasoned musicians who have played jazz for decades and really enjoy spending the time with each other recreating the jazz standards and classics,” said Todd Fallis. Fallis regularly records in the studio in Salt Lake City having played on recordings for CNN, ESPN, Discovery Channel, ABC Monday Night at the Movies theme and other well-known television shows.

All of the band members bring a unique combination of education and professional experience to their musical recreations.

Steve Hawks, dean of USU-Moab, is thrilled to have AMP be in Moab and bring an aspect of the “university experience” to Moab.

“The Aggie Music Project is an ensemble of gifted musicians who play extremely upbeat jazz music—last year’s performance was magical,” Hawks said. “Bringing this group to town is one way of saying “thank you” to the Moab community that supports and sustains us.”

AMP will spend the afternoon engaged in outreach efforts with students in the public schools.

Don McGuire is the music teacher at Grand County High School. Under his tutelage, the high school’s marching band has done well in competitions, including taking third place in state in November.

He said that AMP is filled with “fabulous musicians” and that he is looking forward to their musical clinic with his students.

“They will come and work with my jazz band the morning of the performance,” McGuire said. “Because they are university professors, they understand what I’m trying to accomplish and are very good at helping me reach my goals with my ensembles.”

McGuire’s high school marching band has earned honors at competitions in the last year. The team placed first in a Colorado competition in October and placed third in state in November.

Utah State University has been offering courses in Moab for 45 years. Over the past several years, the vision for Moab has begun to broaden with increased offerings to earn advanced degrees and the proposed USU-Moab campus south of town.

Three years ago, USU-Moab began to hire full-time faculty, some with significant research appointments. In addition to teaching, faculty are actively involved in writing grants, gathering data, and producing high quality scholarship that is grounded in local issues and interests.

USU-Moab now has 160 students enrolled. That is up from 40 enrolled in 2008.

Hawks attributes the enrollment growth to community support, stronger ties with the school district, and more high school students taking concurrent enrollment courses through USU Moab.

Full-time faculty in Moab are building programs in disciplines that take advantage of Moab’s unique setting,” Hawks said. “For example, hospitality and tourism management, recreation resource management, social work, allied health programs, and others.”

Dana Romney, the marketing manager for Utah State University invited the public to take advantage of the benefits of having a local university established in Moab.

“With a good turnout, we hope to make this an annual event,” she said.

Free concert provided by USU-Moab

“We don’t just play classical and jazz music, we do so much more than that.” 

When: 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 23

Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.

Cost: Free. Donations for USU-Moab scholarships appreciated.