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University Jazz Ensemble travels through time for first concert

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By Dilson Hernandez

Contributing Writer

[email protected]


    By the time late November and early December arrives, the Recital Hall of the Performing Arts Center is buzzing with excitement. From pianists to singers, this month is always filled with performances put on by the Music Department. So on Monday Nov. 17, 2014 the University Community Jazz Ensemble was expected to gratify the audience through their performance. Led by the director of the ensemble, David Hosley, who has been the director of the ensemble for the past 20 years, their performances never seem to disappoint.

    The concert’s music selection showcased songs by composers with various styles from different time periods. From John Coltrane to Parliament the ensemble showed they could handle diversified styles presented to them by Hosley. Each musical piece consisted of the general format of the previous Jazz Ensemble concerts, and most Jazz compositions in general. The general format relies heavily on the horn section, where the main melody, or riff, of the song is be presented. After the melody is made familiar in the audience’s head, several solos from various instruments appear after it, especially from trumpets and saxophones. The melody might also appear from time to time in between the song or finally find its way at the end of the piece.

    The first piece was Lee Morgan’s “Sidewinder.” Like most of the music from the Jazz Ensemble concerts, this composition by Morgan has a 30s and 40s swing vibe sound to it. This was especially made relevant when the guitar solos made its way to the audience’s ears. Guitarist Johnny Sarris specifically pushed the bluesy tone further because of the slide guitar solo he performed, which is a common technique in southern country and blues. Up next was John Coltrane’s “Impressions,” which was interesting because all the instruments shared a solo in this piece. It’s always interesting to see a flute player, who doesn’t often get to shine in popular music, perform a solo. The drummer Max Forsythe also had a fantastic solo, which received a fair share of applause from the audience. As the night went on, the performances kept receiving great responses from the crowd. One of which was a Jazz tune named “Sister Sadie” which Hosley chose to honor the jazz legend Horace Silver, the composer of the piece.

    Something that was quite different about this concert was the 70s funk attribution in the last section of the show. In the 70s funk bands like Parliament, Kool and the Gang, and Earth Wind and Fire, relied heavily on a horn section, which was different for popular music at the time. In honor of those bands, Hosley chose to perform Parliament’s classic “Give Up the Funk.”

   He also surprisingly told the audience that he was going to play in this piece. In response one of the instrumentalists in the ensemble yelled, “Finally he’s going to play something!” He laughed and said to the audience, “They always wanted me to play something, so here I am.” The recognizable riff came in and the band was is in full swing. About a minute and half into the song Hosley stopped conducting, picked up a trumpet and had a trumpet battle with trumpeter Dennis Szymanski.

    Almost every instrumental section solos after and the main riff came back until the piece finally closed. The audience immediately started clapping for quite a while, almost as if they wanted to hear more. Some of the people were also giving the ensemble a standing ovation. While leaving the theatre, people were whistling the main riff to “Give up the Funk,” suggesting that the Jazz ensemble completed their mission yet again.

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