Ben Irom

Ben Irom of Temple joins Killeen-based jazz group Dr. Gleam at The Crescent Lounge from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday for a performance.

Courtesy of Robbie Pettit

Central Texas jazz fans have an unexpected post-holiday treat Sunday when pianist Ben Irom performs with Dr. Gleam at The Crescent Lounge.

“Ben is the first-call pianist in the area,” said Ed Hernandez, percussionist and trumpet player in the Killeen-based band. “He’s played with us many times before and it’s always a thrill to have him.”

Originally from San Bernardino, Calif., Irom received his first two music degrees from the University of California, and earned his doctorate from the University of Texas. He currently serves on the faculty of Temple College as director of jazz studies.

“Ben directs the TC Jazz Ensemble, which is a traditional big band, teaches jazz improvisation and leads the jazz combos,” Hernandez said. “And he’s a really nice guy, too — just a joy to make music with.”

Audience members at the Temple Symphony’s Christmas concert heard Irom’s performance on the celeste, a diminutive keyboard instrument prominently featured in Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from “The Nutcracker.” He also teaches jazz piano and courses in recording technology at Temple College.

“We’ll have a mix of jazz standards, some bebop, a little funk and beautiful ballads,” Hernandez said. “It’s a way to welcome in the new year, come in out of the cold weather and be warmed by some great jazz.”

Sunday’s performance at The Crescent Lounge is part of the club’s commitment to the local live music scene, said owner Anthony Rodriguez. “We’ve continued to book Dr. Gleam, Swingtime Big Band and other area musical groups, and plan to keep that going through 2014.”

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