As bassist Dave Zox, Adjunct Instructor in Music, played deep, rich notes from Thelonious Monk’s “Well, You Needn’t,” audience members bobbed their heads and tapped their feet to the rhythm. With overlapping drum patterns and the bright tone of the saxophone from Joel Springer, Adjunct Instructor in Music, the piece set an energetic mood for the rest of the concert.
“There was one moment when [Zox] was really grooving… I mean he was grooving all the way through, but this particular moment just sounded really fun and I turned around and smiled at him,” said trombone player Peter Cirelli, Instructor in Music.
This piece was one of several performances in last Sunday afternoon’s Faculty Jazz Concert in the Timken Room of Graves Hall. The concert featured faculty jazz musicians Bob Baughman, Peter Cicco, Bertram Lehmann, Springer, Zox, Adjunct Instructors in Music, Cirelli, and Vincent Monaco, Instructor in Music, who performed seven composition and improvisation based jazz pieces, two composed by Baughman and Cicco.
“I like it all, each piece has a different kind of mood to it and different kinds of harmonies and a rhythmic feel, so each piece has its own characteristic and personality, so it’s all good. One thing that was nice was that we had a pretty large variety. Each of us submits tunes, so each person has their own musical influences and music they like so if we each bring in something then it makes for a very diverse kind of musical concert and the thing that it has in common is that we improvise in the middle. That’s part of what jazz is. With so many different styles of jazz it makes it interesting,” said Baughman.
The faculty jazz group also performed a slower piece entitled “Ramshackle Serenade” by Larry Goldings. With slower, tranquil phrases, the performers contrasted this performance with much of the rest of the concert. An ascending chromatic scale was interjected into the primary melody to perpetuate a slight feeling of suspense amongst the originally calm melody.
“I didn’t know Ramshackle Serenade before our drummer Bertram brought it in and I really ended up loving it,” said Cirelli.
Another song that the group performed was “Twelve Tone Blues,” a song written by Baughman. Opening with a high note from the trumpet, each instrument followed in cannon, producing layered yet contrasting melodies. The swinging melodies were interposed by sharp pauses for a drum solo or drum and piano duet to add variety to the brass heavy piece.
“I write something every concert usually. It’s what I like to do. I make my own compositions so improvising is really a form of composition, but it’s more spontaneous than when you sit down to write something at a desk or a piano and write it down that way. I’d say I love classical music but I probably have more inclination towards compositions with improvising so that kind of gets me into more of a jazz mood,” said Baughman.
Since jazz is a genre of music that primarily emphasizes improvisation, the faculty jazz concert also incorporated elements of improvisation into their performance.
“There’s always moments when you’re improvising that [you say], ‘Well, maybe that wasn’t the best choice there,’ and, ‘I wish I could do that over,’ but you have to plow on. There’s no rewinding, so you just have to go on and say, ‘Well, I played that okay.’ So yeah, there were a couple [spots] if I heard I would say ‘Oh, maybe that wasn’t the greatest,’ but I was happy with a couple of them,” said Springer.