NOStandards Livens Up the Barge Canal

Elyse Cianfarano

NOStandards took the stage and began showcasing their serious musical talents without introduction on Friday, February 28 at the Barge Canal Coffee Co. The first solo of the night, performed by sophomore and saxophone player Dylan Giustra, exhibited his impressive jazz skills and love of playing, setting the tone for the evening. From beginning to end, NOStandards demonstrated their cohesiveness as a group, highlighted the talents of individual artists and exhibited their appreciation of good, quality music.

The six-piece jazz-funk ensemble typically contrasts a strong and consistent backbeat, provided by first-year Connor Van Cleave on drums, sophomore James Carino on keyboard and juniors Nick Yannopoulos on guitar and Zack Dunn on bass, with the more expressive solo abilities of junior trumpet player Billy Kresbach and sophomore saxophone player Dylan Giustra. However, when given the opportunity, each member of NOStandards can muster up a heart-pounding performance on their own and are ready to break from the background music at any time.

It was during their performance of “Red Clay,” a band favorite by Freddie Hubbard, that NOStandards really hit their stride. Here, NOStandards as a whole captured the energy and cohesion that only happens when musicians really know what they’re doing. Like many of the band’s selections, the song featured the trumpet playing of Kresbach, who offers up an impressive lung capacity. Next came a saxophone solo by bandleader Dylan Giustra, who was perpetually dancing to the music as he played. Giustra’s performances are often reminiscent of more classic jazz players: he closes his eyes and his music is full of feeling. Nick Yannopoulos may seem stoic while he plays in comparison to his more expressive band members, but his guitar riffs and solos are passionate throughout every song.

NOStandards slowed it down with a rendition of  “I Remember Clifford” by Benny Golson, an ode to possibly the greatest trumpet player who ever lived. Immediately, the Barge Canal was filled with a sense of nostalgia. The jazz-funk group then entered the mainstream with a powerful cover of “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley, though still kept true to their unique sound, winning over their audience even further in the process.

“I can’t believe I’d never heard of them before; I was really so impressed,” said sophomore and audience member, Alyse Kalish.

Be on the lookout for this unique and talented group this Friday, March 7 at the Relay for Life event in Huntington gymnasium.