Trio Atomic
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Trio Atomic

Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2020

Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States
Established on Jan, 2020
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"Faculty Focus: Jason Squinobal"

This month the VWU Concert Series presents "Trio Atomic" Dr. Jason Squinobal’s latest musical adventure in a virtual concert on January 15, 2021, at 8 p.m. via the VWU Digital Broadcasting Network.

“Trio Atomic” features Squinobal on saxophone joined by Will McPeters, bass, and Mike Laubach, percussion. In addition to teaching applied lessons at VWU, McPeters and Laubach are members of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, but their usual black-tie performance attire will not be part of Trio Atomic’s eclectic fusion of electronic music, rock, jazz, and African-inspired grooves.

The campus knows Squinobal as the jazz-king, but his interests stretch far beyond.

“My initial training was in jazz performance," noted Squinobal, "but as I explored and studied, I realized that the term 'jazz' encompasses a wide variety from New Orleans acoustic and big band-swing to electronic exploratory and groove-based music of the 1960s and 70s. I’ve always been interested in electronic-based music since I was young, and feel like a ‘musical scientist’ as much as a performer. Experimenting with electronics and effects lets me take it even further.”

As to the music Trio Atomic performs for the January concert, Squinobal says, “There are a lot of world music elements in what we play. It comes from my studies as an ethnomusicologist and explorations of the music of Africa and Asia. I’ve performed them acoustically, too, but the electronic aspect gives a different perspective – an additional layer of timbre and texture.”

Squinobal earned a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Pittsburgh and is in his sixth year at VWU as Associate Professor of Music and Director of Instrumental Ensembles. A Connecticut native, he spent his high school years as a student at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan (and says he still practices those same warm-up exercises daily with the hope of eventually getting them right), and did his undergraduate work at the Berklee College of Music.

Prior to Covid, Squinobal’s jazz ensemble performed almost monthly in the glass-enclosed Henry & Eleanor Watts Grand Lobby of the Goode Center for very popular evening jazz concerts overlooking the fountains and grounds of the University under the setting sun.

McPeters and Laubach are part of that ensemble, too, and of their expansion to electronic music Squinobal said, “It’s a display of the diversity of interest and abilities that we have as musicians. We still perform acoustic jazz and love it, and they play in a rock cover band, too. It’s important to me as a musician to be multi-dimensional, flexible, and not overly rigid in what constitutes ‘worthwhile’ music. As a professional musician, you should be a good reader, a good improviser, and know how to interpret a wide variety of styles of music and have the empathy to work well with others as well as the courage to play on your own. Mike and Will certainly have all this and it’s why I love making music with them.”


Trio Atomic opens the 2021 VWU Concert Series on Friday, January 15 at 8 p.m.

VWU student Tucker Barco has assisted with Trio Atomic’s staging and lighting.

“I’ve wanted to do some sort of project utilizing the lighting and sound system of the Goode, but the challenge has been finding the right project, learning how to use the new equipment, acquiring other items, and finding time to set it up the way I wanted,” Squinobal said. “I was really happy to get Tucker involved. It’s so important to give students the opportunity to collaborate with faculty in a professional environment.”

As to what’s next in his never-ending musical expansion, Squinobal always has ideas percolating.

“We still love playing acoustic jazz, but we’ve been throwing around the idea of doing a more classically oriented project with Will playing acoustic bass, Mike on mallet percussion and me on saxophone. I have a song cycle of arts songs arranged for the group and mezzo-soprano, so who knows?”

We can’t wait! - Virginia Wesleyan University


Discography

Trio Atomic/Mind's Eye released August 2020 via Sound Cloud

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Bio

Trio Atomic is an eclectic fusion of a multitude of musical styles ranging from their global concept of rhythms and beats to jazz, rock and dub. The band’s sound is comprised of a mix of electronic and natural sounds with both the saxophone and bass using effects and loops to alter the instruments capabilities and produce a wide array of sonic possibilities. Since their formation in late 2019, the band composed and recorded their first EP “Minds Eye”, available on Soundcloud, as well as a video concert, “Live at the Goode” which can be found on YouTube. Saxophonist Jason Squinobal is the Associate Professor of Music and Director of Instrumental Music at Virginia Wesleyan University. Drummer Michael Laubach and bassist Will McPeters are both core members of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. 

Band Members