From left to right: Sean Lebita, Jonah Bennett, Andrew Wray.

Aside from education, going to college gives many students the opportunity to experience new things, explore their passions and make connections that will help them in their future careers. For one group of University of Nebraska-Lincoln music majors, college led them to find each other first as friends and then as bandmates. 

The Prism Trio is a jazz band made up of current and former UNL students. The members are Jonah Bennett, a senior music education major, Sean Lebita, a senior piano performance major, and alumna Andrew Wray. Since 2019, the group has been making music together and performing across Nebraska. 

The Prism Trio will be getting together for a performance Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. Their performance will be live in the Lied Center as well as livestreamed on the Lied Center website. Interested attendees can get free tickets for both the in-person and online experiences on the website

According to Bennett, the group will be performing original music, including some they wrote just for this performance. Bennett said he encourages those that are comfortable to attend the performance in person to get the full live music experience. 

“I would always encourage coming in person while staying masked and everything,” Bennett said. “Watching music on a livestream is great, but there really isn’t anything like being in the room. With this music being so interactive and free and open and exciting, the online experience kind of pales in comparison to the in-person experience. We offer a musical experience that isn’t like anything in the immediate area.”

According to Bennett, their passion for jazz was fostered in the Glenn Korff School of Music and forming the band allowed them to explore their style.

“We all are heavily involved in the music school jazz department,” Bennett said. “We all play in jazz combos and jazz ensembles through the school, and we all are just super passionate about the genre. Having a trio like this gives us an opportunity to compose music and explore the medium of jazz.”

Bennett said that his passion for the genre comes from his love of jazz history as well as his ability to be creative while navigating his own path in jazz music. 

“I love how authentic and personal jazz is,” Bennett said. “The history behind jazz is just incredibly rich and heavily based on tradition and respecting the tradition, also while creating something new that is unique to you. It’s so free and interactive and really exploratory.”

Bennett said that these unconfined and experimental aspects of jazz music are what make the trio’s performances exciting. He said they don’t follow one script for the entire performance and know each other so well that they can be innovative during the show. 

“Playing with Sean and Andrew is so fun because we’ve played together so much that we’ve kind of mind-melded. We know what the other person is going to do,” Bennett said. “But at the same time, it’s always fun and interesting because sometimes I have no idea what they’re going to do. It’s super interactive with them because we just trust each other so much with the music.”

Lebita said that spontaneity is also what he loves about jazz music. He said that the group’s established friendship is what allows them to be free on the stage and have exciting performances. 

“As a jazz musician, you get to play with a ton of people, but when you play with people you aren’t super close with, it can get really stale,” Lebita said. “You don’t get to feel them out as much as when you’re playing with close friends and know how they play. It makes a huge difference in the way you interact.”