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Lehigh Carbon Community College

By Jordan Beach

Law enforcement may be in John Johnson’s professional future, but his passion lies in the smooth sound of jazz. And, it’s his musical performance that earned him the 2019-20 Sal Gentile Scholarship.

“His performance of the jazz standard ‘My Prince Will Come’ in the style of the great jazz pianist Bill Evans was, perhaps, the best single performance I have heard from any of Reinhardt’s jazz ensembles,” said Dick Hall, who established the Sal Gentile Scholarship along with his wife, MBA Program Coordinator and Faculty Senate Chair Dr. Dana Hall.

Johnson playing trumpet at the 2018 International Culture Festival.

“He didn’t just play; he led the trio the way I hear the professionals lead their groups,” said Hall. “In short, John is exactly the sort of young person we had hoped to reward and hope to be able to help in the future.”

Johnson ’21 is a musician in Reinhardt’s Jazz Ensemble who is studying sociology with a concentration in criminal justice with hopes of becoming active in law enforcement while continuing his music career alongside.

Hall views Johnson, who started playing trumpet in middle school and began to learn piano two years ago, as one of the most accomplished jazz musicians of any of the awardees.

“This award is the pinnacle of my year…it proves that you can put in all the hard work and still love what you do,” said Johnson.

Johnson continues playing trumpet and piano in Reinhardt’s Jazz Ensemble. When he’s not practicing his instruments, he spends his personal time studying traditional jazz, listening to the “masters of the form.”

The Sal Gentile Scholarship for Jazz Studies was established to support the Jazz Studies program in Reinhardt’s School of Performing Arts. The scholarship is offered to a worthy student musician participating in the Reinhardt Jazz Ensemble, and also serves to honor Sal Gentile, Hall’s former jazz teacher and working musician. Recipients of this scholarship are dedicated students with admirable character, who are superior jazz musicians that study the genre.