Trinity University’s Jazz Ensemble gathered in Ruth Taylor Recital Hall this past Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 7:30 p.m., to put on a set of both jazz combos and big band pieces for their annual fall concert, an evening of toe-tapping tunes.
The selection of songs for the concert reflected a wide variety of jazz under the tutelage of Dustin Jessop, director for Trinity’s jazz ensembles. The concert’s nine pieces included jazz standards such as Alberto Dominguez’s arrangement of “Frenesi” and Thelonious Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser,” as well as more eclectic selections such as a rendition of The Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home” arranged for a big band ensemble.
According to Jessop, the concert’s first half featured a new creative challenge for ensemble members through the selection of jazz combo pieces. For these songs, rather than going through a typical, straightforward rehearsal process as preparation, the musicians focused more on improvisation and building a conversation between the few select players within each song.
“We rehearsed the big band tunes pretty much how a typical ensemble would rehearse, but then we started playing the combo tunes at the start of the semester, too. And those were really interesting to put together because when we first approached those tunes, [it was] just like, here’s a melody, here’s some chords, figure out how you’re going to put this together,” said Sam Vincent, junior pianist and ensemble member.
The ensemble also brought in four guest musicians for their trombone section — including professional trombonists and high school students from the San Antonio area — to form a full jazz band for the concert’s second half.
“We had stacked saxophones, really good trumpets, a great rhythm section, but we had zero trombones,” Jessop said. “We really put the trombones together with the band in the last two rehearsals. So trying to know how it’s going to sound without trombones at the very last bit is really challenging, but they all rose to the occasion.”
The concert’s final songs included energetic, fun jazz classics such as Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” and Eddie Harris’s powerful piece “Cold Duck Time.”
Junior and trumpet player David Richards — who performed the solo for “She’s Leaving Home” — was excited to prepare this arrangement, which came as a lively surprise during the latter half of the concert.
“It was definitely different from a lot of other things we do because we don’t typically think of Lennon and McCartney as doing a lot of jazz. But I thought it was a really cool arrangement. It was a lot of fun to play. I’m a really big Beatles fan, and it was a nice surprise to be able to play that,” Richards said.
If you couldn’t make it to this Fall Concert or it left you wanting to hear more from Trinity’s Jazz Ensemble, be on the lookout for future performances by the group at Trinity’s Christmas Concert and at their Spring Concert next semester.
“We’ve taken a huge jump every semester, so I definitely think our [Christmas Concert] combos are going to be really fun,” said Ty Krieger, sophomore and tenor saxophone player who was featured as a soloist on the song “Well You Needn’t.” “I think that the band should be a bigger deal in the near future because we’re doing some cool stuff, and it’s always really cool to come in to rehearsal and play with a band that’s always improving and getting better.”