Feelin’ Jazzy

Junior Romel Kassaye performs jazz music in a band of six members, as a way of expressing his emotions.

There are many ways to express emotions and feelings with the world. Junior Romel Kassaye utilizes one unique method to do so: performing jazz music as part of a six-member band.

“I just love seeing people express themselves in music in ways I wouldn’t have thought of,” Kassaye said. 

Kassaye has played music since a young age, starting with guitar when he was seven years old. Currently, he plays a multitude of instruments, including tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, guitar, bass, and a little bit of piano. According to him, both of his siblings play the piano, and his older sister’s fluency with the instrument influenced his decision to take up the saxophone. 

“My sister would always play ‘Take Five’ by Dave Brubeck when I was younger,” Kassaye said. “I remember loving [the song] a lot, and I still do. In the fifth grade, I really wanted to learn how to play that song myself.”

Since then, Kassaye has spent more time with music, continuing to learn and play an increasing number of instruments. 

“I’ve been playing music all my life, but I didn’t really listen to much music [until last year]. In the past year, though, [I’ve been listening to more music], and it’s been really interesting to get other people’s perspectives on things through [their lyrics and songs],” Kassaye said.

According to Kassaye, he expresses himself the best in his improvised solos when he’s “really excited and joyful, or really angry.” 

“I remember one time, I came from school, and I was just really mad,” Kassaye said. “I got on my saxophone and started playing nonstop for twenty minutes. I held so much emotion and being able to project that just felt good.”

The band that Kassaye currently plays for, Blue Buoy, came together during August. According to him, all the members had known each other from the RUHS jazz band and decided that playing gigs together would be a fun idea. Since their official establishment as a band, the group has played two gigs. Their first gig was at the restaurant Proudly Serving, and their second was at the Port Royale Yacht Club.

Blue Buoy secured their second gig in October. Kassaye said that while they had almost ten songs prepared that day, they were told they would only be allowed to play two. However, following their second song, the crowd insisted that they play more, allowing them to finish all the songs that they prepared, a testament to their playing ability.

“I really like the energy of gigs,” Kassaye said. “Even though I don’t have much experience, I love entertaining the people there and giving them something to listen to. Getting up [on stage] with an instrument and putting on something that people genuinely enjoy is something that is very special to me.”