All That Jazz: Colgate Chapel Hosts “Dialogues”

Jenn Carey

Any observer strolling past the Colgate Memorial Chapel this past Sunday would naturally wonder why locals, alumni and Colgate students alike would choose to sit inside a stifling, unair-conditioned building on an eighty-five degree afternoon. But the answer is a simple one: a love of jazz music. Sunday’s performance, entitled “Jazz Dialogues, Part II,” featured the musical talents of Colgate’s Associate Professor of Music Glenn Cashman and Eastman School of Music’s Director of Jazz Studies Harold Danko.

The jazz event, which was perhaps more accurately described by Professor Cashman as a “musical conversation,” was one of many upcoming performances that comprise the Colgate Concert Series designed by the Music Department and Concert Manager Jessica Moquin. Although utilizing only the sounds of the piano and saxophone, Professors Cashman and Danko were grateful to have the opportunity to play such an intimate performance together.

Having worked with Danko just this last semester, Cashman felt that having Danko return to campus greatly enhanced the quality of the concert. Cashman described this opportunity to improvise with the same musician for a second time with enthusiasm.

“You recognize some of the player’s vocabulary and you understand where it might be leading. You get a better sense of the player’s language,” Cashman said. “That’s the fun of it, the dialogue.”

Professor Cashman explained that his and Danko’s performance featured a mixture of both old and new sounds.

“[The concert included a] combination of some classic jazz and jazz standards and some original composition,” Cashman said. “It has a chamber-like feel to it.”

For each piece that they performed, Professors Cashman and Danko would begin with the written melodic arrangements and eventually diverge into improvisation sections that highlighted the pair’s remarkable musical instincts. With recognizable jazz songs like “Skylark” and “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise” and such original compositions as Cashman’s “Fortunato” and Professor Danko’s “Wayne Shorter,” audience members were provided with a diverse range of performances, each featuring the musicians’ harmonious talents.

After several duets and a piano solo by Professor Danko, the concert concluded with the opportunity for the audience to greet and interact with the musicians. First-year Christopher Dixon, who attended the concert to support his instructor Professor Cashman, felt the experience was well worth his Sunday afternoon.

“I thought it was a fabulous display of musicianship as well as a fine demonstration of the basic and complex theories of jazz,” Dixon stated following the performance. Although many audience members did not have musical backgrounds, their reactions were equally as positive.

“I can’t say that I know how to appreciate jazz, but I enjoyed it,” Colgate graduate Dan Rauscher ’71 said. Sherburne resident Leah Drexler also enjoyed the concert.

“I think they were both really excellent,” Drexler added.

However, even for those without any previous experience, the sheer pleasure of listening to Professors Cashman and Danko this past Sunday offered insight into the world of jazz improvisation through a modern and inviting approach. Not that all enticement ended with the final bow however; the traditional post-concert desserts just made the entire experience more heavenly.