Thursday, May 14, 2009

That's What Happens!

Last Thursday, we had the UMB Spring 2009 Jazz Concert titled, "That's What Happens," and I have to say we pulled it off surprisingly well!

Our band consisted of 13 members. Two drum kits, two guitarists, a bass player, two keyboardists, saxophone, clarinet, accordion and five vocalists! Several of my bandmates were returning from last semester so I was extremely comfortable performing with them. Nevertheless, I adapted quickly to the playing styles of the new drummer as well as another keyboardist.

Throughout most of the semester, we focused on a song from Miles Davis called “All Blues” as well as “Afro Blue” from Mongo Santamaria. We were drilled repeatedly on notation accuracy as well as common rhythm patterns in jazz. Unfortunately, that left little time to prepare for our end of the semester concert and we crammed in several songs within the last two or three weeks. Furthermore, we lost several days due to Professor X being ill.

We played (in order):

Well You Needn't - Thelonius Monk
Dindi - A.C. Jobim (pronounced Gin-gee)
Angel Eyes - Dennis/Brent
All Blues - Miles Davis
Peace - Horace Silver (my solo piano piece)
Song For My Father - Horace Silver
Afro Blue - Mongo Santamaria
Rebel, Rebel - David Bowie (I'll explain in a moment)
Lullaby of Birdland - Shearing/Weiss

Some of these songs have been featured over the past few months in my playlist so if you have never heard them, definitely check them out!

I got a bit nervous right before we began but once out on stage and playing, I relaxed visibly and eventually was getting into the playing and feeling the vibes. However, I didn't escape the evening's performance unscathed. We opened "Well You Needn't" with the melody played on piano and decided to close the piece out the same way ... unfortunately, when it was my cue to come in, I faltered. Silence descended rapidly as the entire band and Professor X were waiting for me to come in! Needless to say, I choked down a grimace and while deeply embarassed, I kept a professional demeanor as best I could. I became so caught up in the music, I forgot my cue.

I held featured solos in Angel Eyes, Song For My Father, Afro Blue (which became an open solo, non-vocal piece) and Lullaby of Birdland, which I believe was my best solo to date! I dedicated that one to The Voice and the vocalist on that selection really snapped off! The perfect ending to the concert!

Now, it's quite obvious that "Rebel, Rebel" isn't a standard jazz number. This was Professor X's brilliant idea to get us to arrange a song and turn it into something jazz-like. With the exception of his few bits of input, the entire band contributed in some way to this song and wow, did it come out amazing! We had a salsa type rhythm going on it, the lyrics were sung in Italian, English and Spanish (one of the vocalists is an exchange student from Italy). I wish I had some footage or a recording of that piece because we really took it to a new level!

Overall, our concert was spectacular, albeit a tad short in length. Hopefully, in the fall, we can cram in several more selections or lengthen the songs. Additionally, I'm pushing to do “Moondance” from Van Morrison, a tune I've enjoyed since I was in elementary school as well as a possible Christmas selection since we will be close to the holidays.

Some positive aspects of the night were the accordion solos which really shined through and proved a non-jazz instrument can hold its own. Moreover, I was pleased to see that the singers were forced to stand, walk around and rely on their memories during their selections.

Unfortunately, some of these vocalists were struggling and I believe it was due to the advanced sound system we utilized only a few hours prior to the concert. Coupled with nerves, I think it was a recipe for disaster. Coincidentally, the double drum kits were another bad idea. Some of the feedback I received stated, "the drums were just too overpowering!"

Well, I'm taking Jazz band for two more semesters so hopefully the band and I will perform even better the next go around!

Lastly, a huge thank you to all who attended and I must say I really appreciated your support! Once again, I extend my sincerest apologies regarding the donation/door incident. Nevertheless, I hope you'll all come back next semester!

Thank you again!

**UPDATE** On Tuesday, we viewed the video footage of the concert as well as received CD’s of the music; I’ll try to set up a playlist or something over the weekend. We’re also receiving DVD’s so maybe I can get some video up (it’s not the best since the image was stationary - no camera operator)

1 comment:

fuzzy said...

I'm glad the concert went off w/o a hitch and you enjoyed yourself. I didn't know you played tho... I learned something...