Jazzin’ it up

By Austin Block

Jordan Butler ’11 and Casper Stockwell ’10 raised their hands in celebration after successfully completing their solos at the jazz concert in Rugby Auditorium on Dec. 7.

The first jazz concert of the year featured the Studio Jazz, Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Band classes as well as a few smaller combos.

It featured numerous solos by players of the piano, saxophone, trumpet, guitar and other instruments.

“Everyone did a great job of knowing their parts,” pianist John O’Hara ’10 said.

Director Shawn Costantino welcomed the audience and the Advanced Jazz Combo played first.

The Jazz Ensemble then played five songs including “Groove Merchant” by Jerome Richardson and arranged by Dave Barduhn and “Nutville” by Horace Silver and arranged by Bryan Kidd.

Constantino selected pieces that made the Jazz Ensemble musicians switch back and forth between Latin and swing styles to improve their versatility, he said.

“The groups were really tight,” said Mark Silverman, a parent of bassist Alex Silverman ‘10. Alex plays in the Jazz Explorers combo and the Jazz Band class, “The younger groups are playing at a higher level than I’ve ever heard before.”

The rest of the concert featured the Shawn Feldman Combo, the Studio Jazz class and the Jazz Explorers combo and finished with Jazz Band, the most advanced of the three classes.

Studio Jazz played five songs including “I Mean You” by Thelonius Monk, “Blue Rondo a la Turk” and “Song for Bilbao.”

“I think each song that I picked had a different … musical concept that I was trying to get the students to wrap their brains around,” Costantino said.

Costantino said he wanted the Jazz Band to play difficult material that would be hard at first but that they would pick up eventually.

Those advanced songs included “Tissues Aren’t for Cats,” composed and arranged by Tim Davies, “Donna Lee” composed by Charlie Parker and arranged by Matt Harris, and “Out of Socket” composed and arranged by John Yao.

Jazz Band generally does not play commercially published music. Instead, Costantino has music commissioned or buys music from local artists.

“Most bands don’t play that kind of stuff,” he said, “I feel like … our band really supports local musicians and local artists because we’re buying their music and trying to support it.”

“When the microphones were actually on and it was like go time I think people got a little bit scared,” he said.

“I would be scared too,” he said, and he added, “stage fright is an acceptable thing.”

“Everyone nailed their parts,” saxophonist Spencer Horstman ’10 said.