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The Contest That Launched Temple Music Students' Jazz Band, The Vibe Plus Five

Six Temple University students came together in 2014 to create The Vibe Plus Five. Soon after, they won first place in the jazz category in Philadelphia's new PHL Live competition.

PHL Live, a new Philadelphia city government initiative now in its second year, aims to recognize musical talent in the region with a contest spanning 10 different genres, from classical and jazz to pop. WRTI's Susan Lewis considers the jazz ensemble, The Vibe Plus Five. The band came in first place in PHL Live's jazz genre in 2014.

Radio script:

MUSIC: The Vibe Plus Five

Susan Lewis: Alto sax player Panayiotis Dimopoulos had recently arrived as a freshman at Temple University when he found his bandmates.

Panayiotis Dimopoulos: The group just jelled so well together.

The band, with alto and tenor sax, trumpet, vibraphone, bass, and drums – didn’t even have a name when the City’s PHL Live Center Stage contest was announced.

PD: I said, hey guys, this would be very good for us. I assumed we’d at least get some exposure. We’re brand new to the city so why not establish ourselves?

SL: They became The Vibe Plus Five, and submitted a short video of original work. The band was chosen  along with four other entrants for the live jazz finals, which showcased a range of styles at the Time Whiskey Bar in Center City.

PD: There was one band with a broken-down acoustic vibe, there was a more smooth jazz alto sax player who played, and there was another alto sax player more into the rock jazz kind of hybrid. The last group was more of an orchestrated sextet.

SL: And The Vibe Plus Five?

PD: We picked tunes that really adhered to tradition.

MUSIC:  The Vibe Plus Five

SL: Dimopoulos is enthusiastic about the city’s support.

PD: I’m really glad that Philadelphia municipal is putting stuff together for jazz musicians...it's a historic city for jazz, and we’ve had...greats here. It's very touching that they’re trying to bring the culture back and give exposure to the musicians who live here.

SL: In winning its category, The Vibe Plus Five received studio time for recording, $1,000, and recognition that has led to gigs in a variety of venues. 

Band members include: Jon Tomaro, drums; Josh Fisher, bass; Ethan Fisher, vibraphone; Panayiotis Dimopoulos, alto saxophone; Christian Lewis, tenor saxophone; Liam Werner, trumpet; and special guest Scott Edmunds, piano.

Saxophonist and Temple University student Panayiotis Dimoupolous sat down with Susan Lewis at WRTI's Studio to talk about jazz, and the way Philadelphia's PHL Live Center Stage contest helped create opportunities for his band.

The 2015 PHL Live jazz finals were held at The Clef Club on South Broad Street. Winners will be announced on December 10th  at an Awards Ceremony at the Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.