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Student jazz fusion band looks to create social change through music

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A music major student playing guitar in class

During the summer of 2018 a collective of six friends — including four CSUN students from the music department — gathered together and made the decision to form the sextet band, I’m Sorry.

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I'm Sorry band members (left to right) Josh Turner, Miles Martin, Keelan Walters and Jesse Seibold talk among one another during a short break at practice on March 17. The ensemble has been practicing for a few weeks as they prepare to record their first EP mid to late May in an LA studio. Photo credit: John Hernandez

Jazz performance major Ben McPeek is credited with forming the ensemble, gathering an array of multi-talented musicians to be part of his group. McPeek’s selection brought in a variety of instruments to the band, including the guitar, bass, piano, drums, saxophone, trumpet, as well as a mini synthesizer keyboard, and a sound Fx pad.

Playing the saxophone for nine years meant that McPeek understood the theory and aspects of jazz. However, his goal for I’m Sorry was to individualize the sound by incorporating outside influences into jazz.

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Jazz performance major and band leader, Ben McPeek, plays the saxophone in Cypress Hall on March 17. He and his fellow band mates are practicing their self-composed songs for an upcoming recording of their EP in a studio. Photo credit: John Hernandez

The result was jazz fusion, a unique-sounding musical genre introduced and honed by professional trumpet player Miles Davis during the 1960s. Jazz fusion is comprised of traditional jazz combined with rock and other musical influences. Later, I’m Sorry turned to synthesizers and electronic instrumentals to aid the distinguished and traditional jazz sound. The result was ear-bending and multi-faceted eclectic jazz fusion.

The group originally began with hopes of simply going with the flow through a combination of instrumental elements to create art through the jazz.

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Pianist Mike Oren plays the synthesizer during practice at Cypress Hall. Oren moved from his hometown of Berkeley to a university in Ohio to study piano-playing. Following the completion and attainment of his bachelor's degree, Oren moved to LA to pursue a career in jazz music, where he eventually met McPeek. Photo credit: John Hernandez

“We all had a similar idea of wanting to create something that we maybe didn’t know what we were doing, and trying to kind of push our boundaries of what we were comfortable with,” McPeek said.

However, as their one year anniversary approaches this summer, the band’s focus has transitioned into music for activism and social change.

With their powerful idiosyncratic style, the band’s vision is to be the voice of minority communities and those who cannot speak up for themselves, as well as raising awareness for an array of issues. I’m Sorry hopes to release a song in the coming months pertaining to McDonald’s and peoples’ addiction to the fast-food chain nationwide.

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San Jose native Miles Martin plays the drums during rehearsal on Feb. 17. While Martin began his music career in elementary with the piano, it was the mistake of forgetting his piano book during private lessons that made his instructor place him on the drums for the day. Since that turning event, Miles has played nationwide in drumming groups during high school, has been in more than 10 bands since his commencement at CSUN and is now currently in two bands, including I'm Sorry. Photo credit: John Hernandez

“I want to be part of that and I want to be a part of voices I believe in, bringing a voice to minorities and people who are suffering through large scale systems in the U.S.,” McPeek said.

He believes that “music can bring people together and bring those ideas together and can organize and unite and have a voice for themselves.”

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Josh Turner, I'm Sorry's bassist, plays during their first ever performance at the bar lounge bluewhale in Downtown LA's Little Tokyo District on Feb. 18. Turner is a junior at California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita, and met McPeek during a gig at the bar, The Attic. Photo credit: John Hernandez

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