Students Bring “Sass” to Jazz Concert

Bridget Sheppard

On November 7, Colgate’s Concert Jazz Ensemble performed their concert, “Sassy and Swinging,” in the Colgate Memorial Chapel, playing 10 jazz pieces for the audience. Since their concert was about a month earlier than usual this year, the students had to put in more time and effort to prepare. The ensemble’s director, Associate Professor of Music Glenn Cash­man said that for the ensemble – which consists of 18 members, a mix of students and profession­als – to be ready for a performance, collaboration, cooperation and dedication are required.

During their practices, Cashman said the jazz ensemble “work[s] on ensemble precision, blend and perfecting as a group many fine nuances re­lating to the interpretation of the jazz language and the specific style at hand.”

Students have the opportunity to learn, perform and even improvise jazz music at times, as in “‘C’ Jam Blues,” composed by Duke Ellington. During this piece, any members who wished to create their own solo had the chance to do so.

The concert began with Maria Schneider’s “Sa­lina” and ended with Howard Rowe’s “Calypso Bob,” showing the range of pieces. Schneider is a well-known writer from New York City who studied with Gil Evans, the famous Jazz pianist, arranger and composer, whereas Rowe is less known outside of the jazz community. The Afro-Cuban “Havana,” by Bill Cunliffe, a Grammy-winning composer who recently came to Colgate, further added to the diversity of music.

“The program has been selected to incorporate a mix of established writers of Jazz Ensemble music and less known composers deserving of wider competition,” Cashman said.

Other compositions at the show included Phil Kelly’s “Baby Dahl,” Michael Kocour’s “Donnie’s tempo” and Tom Kubis’s “In Your Mel­lophone,” the title of which refers to a French horn-like instrument. The ensemble also performed Frank Mantooth’s “Oneida,” written about the nearby city, along with John Mills’s “Spin” and Chris Merz’s “The Beautiful One.” After their 10 numbers, the ensemble held a reception at the Chapel for their audience.

Alongside the students were several professional musicians, such as Doug Keith, a trumpet player who has taught music at Morrisville State College and directed the Paragons Jazz Band and theater or­chestras. Another professional trumpet player in the concert was John Piazza Jr., the Director of Music at the Rome YMCA Center for Creative Arts in upstate New York. Piazza teaches ear training, music theory and jazz history. He also runs several ensembles. The East-Syracuse-Minoa Band Director and free-lance trumpeter Steve Carney also joined the Jazz Ensem­ble for this performance. Cashman, who spends a few months each year in Southern California performing and recording, also played along with the ensemble for several pieces.

The Colgate students involved in the concert had the chance to play classic jazz music, improvise and create their own music, and learn from Cashman and the other professionals in the ensemble. In turn, these students in gave the Colgate community the opportunity to hear and experience jazz music.