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If you can make it there …

Published on November 15, 2023

If you can make it there …

Music student Evan Wood breaks into New York City jazz scene

Evan Wood
Evan Wood '24

For jazz musicians worldwide, New York City is one of the most desired places to build a name. A young jazz drummer and music major at Eastern Connecticut State University is wasting no time getting his foot in the door of this international jazz hotspot.

Evan Wood ’24 has performed several times in New York City recently. He brought his Evan Wood Group to Silvana, a café in Harlem, on Oct. 13. Wood then performed at a Brooklyn lounge called Fiction on Oct. 30 before performing at the Shrine World Music Venue in Harlem on Nov. 6 with trumpeter Rockwell Valentine. Wood will perform again at Silvana on Dec. 23.

Evan Wood

Wood performs often in Connecticut with variations of his own group as well as Stattic, a rhythmic jazz group he has been part of for several years. Stattic includes fellow Eastern student and Woodstock Academy graduate Evan Gianfriddo ’24 on bass guitar.

Stattic is a bona fide band, featuring a consistent core lineup and a set repertoire of songs. “With Stattic, it’s just been (about) persistence and looking out for opportunities,” said Wood, adding that “loving the music we play” makes the band perform better.

Wood has worked hard over the last several years to build his bands and his brand, which includes the Evan Wood Group, Stattic and his private instruction business. Wood has tailored his creative skills to enhance the character of each of his ventures. Recently, he coordinated his group’s shows in New York City by reaching out to venues that would fit their musical genre.

So, what genre of music does Wood perform? The short answer is jazz, but the long answer varies based on which group he is performing with. “I’m inspired by a lot of hip-hop and dance music, so a lot of that inspiration comes through in the music as well,” Wood said. Stattic's music features a hip-hop-infused sound.

Conversely, the Evan Wood Group plays “jazz standards, but typically more on the modern side.” The group’s lineup is flexible but typically consists of guitar, upright bass, drums and trumpet.

Evan Wood
Wood performs with his group at Fiction, a jazz lounge in Brooklyn, NY, on Oct. 30.

Modern jazz standards, according to Wood, leave “more room to be expressive” than older jazz standards, especially for those in his role: “The role of the drummer is more involved.”

Additionally, Wood feels that he has more creative exercise within projects branded under his name. “The only person that has to be consistent within that band is myself,” he said. After he books shows, he decides what musicians to call based on the sound the venue calls for.

At age 20, Wood’s professional toolbox and social network continue to expand. “Having that social media presence is like a resume to the world,” he said. “If I’m not posting actively, then it looks like I’m not playing much, and then it looks like, ‘oh, maybe this guy’s not serious about what he’s doing.’”

Wood often reiterates the importance of having a solid and expansive social network. Strengthening his network has been the greatest gain of Wood’s time at Eastern: “I’ve met people who are important to my developing career.”

An important connection Wood has made is with Matt Bronson, lecturer of music. “He’s given me work as a musician,” Wood said. Bronson has also introduced Wood to other professionals in the industry, such as recording drummer and bandleader Jonathan Barber, who is now Wood’s drum instructor.

Much like his work, Wood views his education as something to be worked for rather than handed to him. “What you put in is what you get out,” he said. To Wood, music students should use their education to answer the questions, “how are you going to work as a musician, and what are the skills that are necessary to make that happen?”

To Wood, performing in New York is about creating future opportunities. “I think it’s important for me to perform in a setting where the standard is a little bit higher,” he said. “As much as I feel at home in Connecticut, I’d like to eventually feel at home in New York City, too.”

Written by Noel Teter

Categories: Arts, Music