By Ariel Steinsaltz
Music burst through the air during the Jazz Ensemble’s performance on Saturday, April 13 at 8 p.m. in Kendall Hall.
The ensemble, directed by Assistant Director of Music Gary Feinberg, opened with “Strike up the Band” by George Gershwin. After the first performance, Feinberg explained the show’s theme, which was a combination of swing, blues, bebop, hip hop and rock.
The band then played “Emancipation Blues” by Oliver Nelson, which is an important piece to Feinberg due to its ability to fuse African-American and mainstream jazz while bringing back the blues and gospel roots. The song began slow but transitioned to an upbeat melody, which pleasantly surprised audience members.
This selection was followed by the ballad “Carla” by Bob Mintzer and “Cold Sweat” by James Brown. Feinberg told the story of Brown being given the chance to open for the Rolling Stones in the 1960s only for the Stones to say that they didn’t want to perform after him. According to Feinberg, the piece was special because it was the first funk tune and only includes one chord shift. The song, which included many solos, was also loud and upbeat.
“One of the things that a jazz band does, a student jazz band, is you do a lot of sight reading,” he said. “So from the beginning of the semester we read a lot of charts.”
Before a brief intermission, the crowd was serenaded in “Donna Lee” by Charlie Parker. Feinberg described this as a bebop song, which was a transformative movement in the revolution of jazz following an oppressive era in music.
Popular film and TV scorer Gordon Goodwin from the famed “The Incredibles,” made his song “Whodunnit” popular with the crowd. Pat Metheny, a 20-time Grammy winner, was featured in a “Latin rock” song called “Have You Heard” with a seven-beat cycle that Feinberg said makes it hard to dance to.
A diversion from the tone of the program took form in “Take The ‘A’ Train” by Billy Strayhorn. Feinberg explained the nostalgic side of this piece, saying it is a song that everyone should know. David Cohn, a freshman psychology major, played the trombone in the show.
When asked which song was his favorite, he said, “I like ‘Take the ‘A’ Train,’ it’s a classic.”
Feinberg explained that the jazz band is a class that has been rehearsing twice a week since the beginning of the semester.
After the show, Feinberg explained why he chose the songs for the show. “From the charts we read, I just picked out charts that the band sounded good on a couple weeks ago.” “Jazz band is a super fun experience and I really enjoyed this concert,” Cohn said.
Gaia Hutcheson, a freshman music education major who came to the show to support her friends in the jazz band, said that although she doesn’t know much about jazz, she enjoyed the music. “The jazz band is always really, really good,” she said. “Everyone is dedicated and wonderful.”