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UTM Jazz Band performs the creative art of jazz

By Lyndsay Riggs
On December 11, 2012

This past Thursday, Dec. 6, the College of Humanities and Fine Arts Department of Music featured the UTM Big Band and Small Jazz Group, who performed various forms of jazz music in the UC Ballroom of the Boling University Center at 7:30 p.m. for approximately one hour.  Dr. Kurt Gorman directed the students.

It was abundantly clear to the audience that the group of musicians had worked hard and diligently to prepare for the performance that night. The various performing ensembles, which appeared confident and comfortable in their positions in front of the audience, were very lively and enthusiastic and seemed to truly enjoy the music that they were playing. Their enjoyment, as well as buoyant performance, helped create a casual, relaxing atmosphere in the large, intimidating ballroom.

Playing the saxophone, performers included: Senior Alan Jones (lead alto) and Sophomore Chance Farmer, Sophomore Zach Barker, Sophomore Chantia Brown and Sophomore Tucker Gillihan (lead tenor).

Playing the trombone, performers included: Junior Rachel Pittman, Senior Jonathan Cavender, Sophomore Crissy Miller (lead) and Sophomore Kevin Freyler.

Playing the trumpet, performers included: Junior Ryan Davis (lead), Freshman Brent Hopper, Senior Andrew Adams and Senior Martin Mathes.

There was also a special inclusion of various rhythm sections sprinkled throughout the concert.  Freshman Shaun Paul and Senior Tori Russell took turns playing the piano. Junior Chris Wiggins played the bass.  Freshman Michael Fountain played drums. In addition, Freshman Della Coleman and Senior Colby Snider played various auxiliary percussion instruments.

Before the performances began, Gorman noted that "the most creative part of jazz" is improvisation, which he stated is often used.

The opening big band performance was Joe Garland's very lively 1939 piece "In the Mood," which was a #1 hit in the 1940s.  In 1999, National Public Radio named it one of "The 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century."

Performed secondly was the more relaxed piece, Duke Ellington's "Satin Doll," which prompted the crowd to clap loudly at various points throughout the song.

The next piece Gorman referred to as "a more modern favorite." It was Miles Davis's 1954 jazz piece "Four."

Next, the performers played "Where or When," arranged by Gerry Mulligan.  "'Where or When' was the first number in the 1937 Broadway musical by Rodgers and Hart, Babes in Arms. Gorman recognized the students playing the trombones, whom he "gave the melody to"-a rare occasion.

Herbie Hancock's 1964 piece "Cantaloupe Island" was then performed most notably by four students who stood in front of the rest, each alternating turns playing: Brent Hopper, Chance Farmer, Chantia Brown and Crissy Miller.  Gorman, too, jumped in a few times playing the trumpet.

Brent Hopper, Chance Farmer and Chantia Brown then went on to perform Joe Henderson's 1963 "Recordame."

The UTM Small Jazz Group then performed Thelonious Monk's 1952 piece "Bemsha Swing," arranged by Mark Taylor, and Charles Mingus's 1957 piece "Haitian Fight Song," arranged by Andrew Homzy.

The small jazz group ended on a high, upbeat note with Mongo Sanatamaria's 1963 piece "Afro Blue," arranged by Michael Philip Mossman.

"Jazz Band has been a great experience for me this semester. I was in a jazz band in high school, but never really did improvisation until one piece my senior year. We started preparing for this concert at the beginning of the semester. It was a really fun concert for me, because I got to show who I am as a musician through several solos. I had a lot of fun throughout this performance!" said Freshman Brent Hopper, who was featured several times throughout the performance.

All in all, attending the concert and being able to experience a different taste of inspiring music was a worthwhile experience.  While the Music Department has finished their concerts for the semester, there will be plenty to attend next semester and students are strongly encouraged to attend them; all concerts are typically free of charge-unless otherwise indicated.

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