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Sweet Jazz Music Series kicks off Friday in Sewickley

| Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
Members of Chico's Quintet+1 are, from left, saxophone player Langston Kelly, Mike Mackey on piano, trumpeter Carlos Ortiz IV, vocalist Kim Hasara, drummer Dave O'Brien and bass player Chris Skelly. Not pictured is Brian Pappal, who also plays piano. The group will be featured Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, in the Sweet Jazz series at Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley. Submitted.

Carlos “Chico” Ortiz IV said his band, Chico's Quintet +1, isn't “your typical jazz band.”

The group, which will kick off Sweetwater Center for the Arts' Sweet Jazz Music Series on Friday in Sewickley, provides much more than background music, he said.

“We don't want to be just that. We want to be entertaining and keep people on their feet so they won't fall asleep,” he said.

Although the band started out in 2009 as Chico's Quintet, which produced an instrumental album in 2011 titled “Just Music,” a vocalist later was added and the name changed to Chico's Quintet +1.

“It made us play differently. When you have a vocalist, you stand behind them and let them shine,” he said.

Ortiz, the trumpet player and band leader, said the audience relates more and the band members don't seem to lose their attention when they are listening to the words.

Ortiz and other band members all are from the Pittsburgh area and in their 20s and early 30s.

They all studied or are studying at Duquesne University but at different times, Ortiz said.

“Most band play songs with a main melody, then a solo, then the main melody again, and it's the end of the song.

“We're different and more organized. We have more intricate parts. We have the main melody, then solo, then two players playing two different melodies at the same time, like a counter melody behind the rhythm section. We also scat, and we like audience participation,” he said.

The band's repertoire also has changed from using the “same old ‘50's songs” like “All of Me,” and “Girl From Ipanema” to jazz versions of Al Green songs such as “Let's Stay Together” and Bill Withers' “Use Me.”

Also featured in the band are:

• Chris Skelly, a senior at Duquesne studying bass performance. He also performs with The Steel Town Soul, that performs at SPIN Bartini & Ultra Lounge, Shadyside.

• Drummer Dave O'Brien, who has a bachelor's degree in percussion performance from Duquesne and holds a performer's certificate from the Eastman Community Music School in New York. He also plays with Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Matt VanFossen, Root 19, Jasper Lewis and L.A.B. Therapy.

• Singer Kim Hasara, who has a master's degree in vocal performance from Duquesne with an emphasis in classical and jazz and a bachelor's degree from Westminster College. She has performed with many jazz musicians around Pittsburgh.

• Langston Kelly, who has a bachelor's degree in saxophone performance from Duquesne and performs regularly with the Glenn Strother Project, Jazzam, Guaracha Latin Dance Band and The Old E. Allstars.

• Brian Pappal, who has a bachelor's in music performance from Duquesne, where he studied trombone and voice. He is director of music at Peters Creek Presbyterian Church and has played with the Wheeling Symphony, Butler Organists and Altoona Symphony Brass.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

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