BYU-Idaho’s annual Winter Jazz Festival is right around the corner. Several internationally famous musicians will share their talents and knowledge with both students and the community. Among these scheduled performers is the Faculty Trio.
Although they are still referred to as the Faculty Trio, five men will perform. In the group are Kobie Watkins, Aaron Miller, Justin Nielsen, Ryan Nielsen and Jonathan Armstrong. These men have played together for five years.
“Kobie Watkins was a drummer for Sonny Rollins,” said Jeremy Christiansen, a senior studying music education. “He was a world-renowned player and was an amazing human. Aaron Miller has toured around the world and played internationally. Justin Nielsen has had students get scholarships into the top music schools. All three of them are master musicians — they are masters at their craft.”
Miller, a music faculty member and one of the event’s performers, has worked with BYU-I students for the past 12 years. Before working at BYU-I, he toured with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. The original band formed in 1938 and played until 1942. According to their website, “The present Glenn Miller Orchestra was formed in 1956 and has been touring consistently since, playing an average of 300 live dates a year all around the world.”
Miller has also played with Watkins. In fact, the two have played together for the past six years.
“Kobie (Watkins) does a wonderful job performing, and it is a high energy concert,” Miller said. “With Kobie’s stuff, we put on an energetic show. The show is more interactive rather than just listening passively.”
Their abilities go beyond performing. They also have a way of teaching and helping others improve their musical abilities.
“They are master teachers as well,” Christiansen said. “Their first profession is playing music, and their second is being a teacher. It is hard to find people like that to come teach you.”
Caleb Coleman, a junior studying music and Watkins’ student, described his teaching style.
“Kobie was self-taught until he went to college,” Coleman said. “He teaches in a very direct way. As a teacher, he teaches in a way that is very applicable to now. He is also able to see to the root of a problem, and when he sees it, he is very direct in how to fix that because it’s like looking in a mirror that knows more than you.”
Coleman has also learned under Miller.
“One thing (Miller) is very good at is making things accessible to the students,” Coleman said. “With him, he looks at the overall musicality. I don’t think I’ve ever been steered wrong working with him.”
The group will perform on March 12. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. in the John W. Hart Auditorium.