This Thursday, November 21st, I went to the jazz concert in the beautiful Chism Recital Hall. The performance featured the creatively named Jazz Band 1 and Jazz Band 2 of Whitman college. While the names might be lacking in inspiration, the musicians certainly aren’t. The night was full of marvelous music, swinging solos, and disgusting drums (as in really good).
The concert started out with several pieces from Jazz Band 2, with an emphasis on guitar, saxophone, and trumpet solos. The atmosphere of the crowd was lively and interactive as the winds blared into microphones and the drums backed up solos worthy of their own applause during the middle of the piece. One of Jazz Band 2’s pieces was about the look of love, with a smooth vocal performance and relaxing instrumentals. During the final west coast swing song the director of Jazz Band 2 invited people to dance in the space between the front row and the stage. Sadly, no one took him up on his offer.
After Jazz Band 2 finished Jazz Band 1 stepped up to much applause, led by the talented Doug Scarborough. Band 1 started off with a smooth sax line leading into a performance of “Anything Goes”, by Cole Porter, with Ashlyn Quintus singing vocals. Then Professor Scarborough got up and let the audience know that Jazz Band 1 would be taking the audience around the world, from Bohemia, Brazil, Southern India, and finally back to the U.S. with song. The band then started up a beautiful and jazz rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, by Queen, without a vocalist. Trombone, saxophone, trumpet, and guitar soloists playing the most recognizable parts of the famous rock ballad.
Following the Rhapsody there was a brazilian piece with an emphasis on bongos and xylophone. The xylophone played several bright and upbeat solos throughout the song, with the winds helping to add depth and contrast to the light and fast notes. What is even more impressive to me about this is that the person playing piano for Bohemian Rhapsody played the xylophone during this piece.
After the brief excursion to Brazil the audience was introduced to the Mridangam, a double sided drum traditionally made from cow or goat skin and jackfruit wood. The Mridangam player had played at the largest music festival in the world, multiple times, and led a piece where he played and was echoed rhythmically by two drum kits (the set of drums most rock bands have). It was like a game of jazzy, indian, musical telephone, and was impressive to hear. The fifth piece featured vocals, the Mridangam, and all of Jazz Band 1. The night ended with a piece called “Anything More?”, which I can only describe as a swinging piece of jazz.
It was a fun night of free jazz and incredible talent. I will definitely be going to more jazz concerts in the future!