(THE PICKET)—Shepherd University’s Music Department held a jazz show as part of its 2015-2016 concert season. I’ve been trying to get into jazz for a while, so I figured I’d go. There was a solid group of musicians on display Friday night featuring five saxophonists, four trumpeters, four trombonists and a rhythm section featuring a vibes player, a pianist, an upright bassist and a drummer.
I raised myself on rock ‘n’ roll, so, to me, the standout performance from the evening was a bebop piece titled “Jumpin’ Jivin’ Joey,” composed by Matt Harris, which brought everybody’s instruments out, guns blazing. I’ve got to find more tracks like that once I delve into the genre more.
I can appreciate the softer side, which was played well here, Chase Remsburg had a nice saxophone solo on Thelonious Monk’s “’Round Midnight,” but sometimes I just need an edge, you know?
Two more unusual pieces also stood out, the first being a jazz arrangement of the traditional tune “Go Tell It on the Mountain.”
Many of the songs performed had that typical jazz ending where the instruments build up and then all play one coda note for a few seconds, but not here. It took me by surprise to hear the buildup and then nothing, that’s the end of the song, no “BWAAAAAAAAAAM” to end it, you know, the part where the title card would show up if the song were backing the opening credits to a movie.
The second wild card was a Cuban-influenced track called “Funky Cha-Cha,” where the band indulged its inner Ferrell by bringing out a driving cowbell beat.
One final note, that drummer can play. Michael Vacek put on a clinic.
After the show, the bandleader announced a performance of Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” and Paul Winter’s “Earth Mass,” which will feature Vacek and another percussionist. I hope they drum battle, Ed Shaughnessy and Buddy Rich-style.