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Future of Jazz: Zon3 

Inspired to improv

Inspiration lies at the heart of every melody the musicians in Zon3 compose. Born from gospel, the members who comprise the contemporary jazz group (pronounced "zone three") supported singers and choirs by paying attention to the styles each ensemble offered.

"In the church, that's where I learned a lot of things, as far as discipline, trying to figure out what to play and what not to play," bassist Jermaine Hall says. "Gospel is pretty much straightforward. There's not a whole lot of twists and turns."

When Hall began playing jazz with drummer Jeremy Haynes and keyboardist Kevin Griffin, an alternate way to inspire was created.

"In gospel, you have to play by the rules," Haynes says. "You have to be more precise in your interpretation so that you don't lose a room full of people. With jazz, I've learned that there are rules, but the only rules are to perfect who you are, be on top of your game and don't play above people's heads."

That's where improvisation and inspiration intersect. When playing instrumental music, the group provides a melody on which the audience can make up the lyrics.

Even before the band took first prize in the contemporary jazz–instrumental category of the Atlanta Jazz Festival's Future of Jazz competition, Zon3 was regularly gigging around town.

Haynes hopes Zon3 inspires listeners to make their own brand of music. "You can either influence people or discourage people with what you do."

Catch Zon3 at the 2008 Atlanta Jazz Festival. Free. Mon., May 26. 3 p.m. Woodruff Park, 84 Peachtree St. 404-853-4234. www.atlantafestivals.com.

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