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Wasted Potential



Bassist Michael T. Brown


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Guest artist Jim Cann on trombone, Bill McFarlane (trumpet) on right


 Drummer Brian Brooks 





Wasted Potential, in a word, rules.   These guys are the reason I'm into jazz.  They play in Manhattan, Ks and I listened to them every week when I went to college there.  I still drive up to hear them and in my opinion, this is the pinnacle of jazz.  The members are Bill McFarlane on trumpet, Michael T. Brown on bass, Brian Brooks on drums, Betty "O" on vocals, and Robert Roman on piano.  They also feature guest artists such as Dennis Wilson on trombone, Bill Harshbarger on reeds, and Jim Cann on trombone, amongst others.    I'll get more information as I learn.  For now, here is an article on them from the KSU campus newspaper.  Story by David Fairbanks:

For the past two years, they have been jazzing up Manhattan audiences by bringing their sounds to Aggieville on a weekly basis.

Manhattan's own Wasted Potential is keeping jazz alive here in the Little Apple. Every Friday night at Auntie Mae's Parlor in Aggieville, the band entertains crowds of students, community members and K-State faculty with three hours of various jazz styles.

Bill McFarlin, trumpet, said their musical styles stretch across the jazz spectrum.

"We play a broad range of music. We're steeped in the roots of bee-bop, but we also branch out and perform numbers in Dixieland, swing and in a straight ahead jazz style."

Wasted Potential, formed four years ago, is used as an outlet for each member to vent their musical talents, McFarlin said.

"We're not in the mode of trying to go for it or make it big. There's just no need to do that. But that doesn't mean we don't consider ourselves professionals," McFarlin said.

Vocalist Betty'O Jones has had quite an extensive professional career, he said. A year and a half ago her voice brought her a first-place finish on Showtime at the Apollo. She was also the lead in the Asian tour of "Ain't Misbehavin'" and has had a couple hit records in Europe.

Bill Lee, piano and executive director of the International Association of Jazz Educators, said he has played with the likes of Charlie Parker, Gene Krupa and Jerry Mulligan. Lee has written over 100 published books and compositions and has two doctorates in music.

Lee has also had an extensive academic career. He was the dean of music at Sam Houston State University, the University of Texas at San Antonio and the executive vice president and provost of the University of Miami. While at Miami, Lee was also responsible for the hiring of Jimmy Johnson as coach of its football team, he said.

Rounding out the seven member group are Michael Brown on bass, Jim Cann on trombone, Bill Harshbarger on saxes and Brian Brooks, senior in marketing, on drums.

Brooks said playing with such talented musicians proved to be rough in the beginning.

"I was completely intimidated at first, but they're great people and easy to get along with. They're very supportive," Brooks said.

He also said that playing with Wasted Potential has done a great deal for him. Even though he's a 10-year veteran on the trap set, he said he still learns a lot from the other members.

"When you play with people who have that much experience you can't help but feed off them. You learn different approaches to the same stuff. It's almost a spiritual thing," Brooks said.

Even though they take their music seriously, the band has yet to release a recording. Lee said because of their careers, the one night each week they play is the only night they can get together.

"Some people go bowling, we go bopping. There's the golfers, and we're the goofers," Lee said.

Wasted Potential will be goofing for all ages at the Manhattan Center for the Arts, Saturday at 8 p.m.

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