Warren Woods Tower High School senior Steven Poeschel is president of the school’s record club, a student group that meets weekly to explore  different genres of music.

Warren Woods Tower High School senior Steven Poeschel is president of the school’s record club, a student group that meets weekly to explore different genres of music.

Photo by Deb Jacques


WWT record club hits the right notes

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published February 8, 2019

 Warren Woods  Tower High School sophomore Isabella Vehar talks about her experience listening to Charles Mingus’ “Ah Um” record. She said her dad has tried to get her to listen to  jazz and she really  enjoyed the album.

Warren Woods Tower High School sophomore Isabella Vehar talks about her experience listening to Charles Mingus’ “Ah Um” record. She said her dad has tried to get her to listen to jazz and she really enjoyed the album.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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WARREN — Warren Woods Tower High School sophomore Isabella Vehar wasn’t expecting to like the songs on Charles Mingus’ “Ah Um” record.

The instrumental album, released in 1959, isn’t something to which she normally would listen. But after giving the music a try, Vehar was jazzed.

“This is kind of fun,” she thought. “It made me want to tap dance.”

Vehar is among the students in the school’s record club, a group of music enthusiasts who meet after school every Tuesday in teacher Jason Dougherty’s classroom. The club is designed to broaden the students’ musical interests and introduce new music they may have not heard before.

About 20 members are in the club. They have bonded over discussions on rock ’n’ roll, heavy metal, indie, pop, alternative, showtunes, country, classical and more. Every Tuesday, a student recommends an album for the rest of the club to listen to before the next meeting. The following week, the students meet to review what they liked and/or didn’t like about the record.

The students also share their thoughts on what they found interesting by the artist or band, their favorite and least favorite tracks, and if they would listen to the album again or any other work from the artist. Senior Steven Poeschel is the club president and senior Griffin Collins is the vice president.

On Feb. 5, the group gathered to converse about junior Sean Follo’s suggestion from the previous week: “Ah Um,” a jazz record by Mingus that came out 60 years ago and includes the titles “Better Git in Your Soul,” “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and “Fables of Faubus.” Sitting at desks in a horseshoe shape, the club members commented about the sounds that came from the record and if they had an impact.

“The album is critically acclaimed. I felt it had a good variety of songs, from fast to slower to different chord progressions,” said Follo, himself a jazz fan. “I thought some of the improvisation was very good. There were a lot of talented musicians on this, and I really liked the drumming. On ‘Better Git in Your Soul,’ I like the driving force in the middle section when you hear the saxophone.”

Freshman Ethan Rowinski thought one song sounded like bird calls. Junior exchange student Eugenia Savchynets said Mingus’ sound felt like “a throwback” to a different time period.

“It really placed me in the 1950s. The second song was really good,” she said. “I would never have listened to jazz by myself. This is a new thing. I may listen to more modern jazz.”

“I liked it,” sophomore Doug Lassin said. “I can appreciate what it is musically. I can really appreciate the instruments. Now people are doing things into a computer. Back then you actually had to work hard make this beat.”

For Poeschel, “Ah Um” didn’t have “a dull moment.”

“There was nice, slow lounge music and there was bebop music,” he said. “It kept everything interesting. ‘Fables of Faubus’ was just a really clever song.”

Talking about Mingus also got the kids to bring up the idea of instrumental music without lyrics.

“Music doesn’t need lyrics, especially in jazz,” Follo said. “There’s a lot of emotions going on. I can feel the notes. I can feel the expression.”

For senior Monika Szabat, she prefers to hear instrumental music live rather than on record.

“It’s not the same experience,” she said.

“I feel like an artist doesn’t need to say it to provoke an emotion,” sophomore Jack Rachko said. “I feel people can interpret this in many different ways. Everyone has a different interpretation on what they want to take from the music.”

“It’s not somebody telling you something,” sophomore Dominic Clark said. “You can put it to any topic, almost like a movie scene.”

During the discussion, Poeschel asked the group, “How does jazz hold up today? Is it outdated?”

“It’s underrated. People don’t give it the time of day. It’s not fair to the actual musicians who don’t get (to) shine,” junior Amanda Kraft said. “It’s still here for a reason. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it. If you do, then it’s a whole new genre.”

American rapper, spoken word artist and author George Watsky’s “x Infinity” was the selection the club would listen to after the Feb. 5 meeting to discuss Feb. 12, after press time.

Many of the club members are in school band or sing in the choir at WWTHS. Florence and the Machine, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Greta Van Fleet, KISS, the Strokes and Janet Jackson are among the many artists on the students’ radar.

The previous albums discussed so far this year included “Toxicity,” by System of a Down; “Am I a Girl,” by Poppy; “Station to Station” by David Bowie; “Crystal Castles,” by Crystal Castles; “Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs,” by Andrew Bird; “Soy Pablo,” by Boy Pablo; and “Stop Making Sense,” by Talking Heads.

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