Going Solo: Faculty Jazz Concert Plays in Timken

According to Webster, “jazz is an American music developed especially from ragtime and blues and characterized by propulsive syncopated rhythms, polyphonic ensemble playing, varying degrees of improvisation, and often deliberate distortions of pitch and timbre.” To others, the word “jazz” brings to mind the intriguing melodies or fast motives on the saxophone or trumpet. Most think of the word “jazz” as describing something far less technical than its definition, preferring simply to characterize it as fast, fun, and exciting. Whatever your definition, this Friday’s performance in the Timken Room by the Faculty Jazz Ensemble would most certainly have met0 your expectations. Played by faculty members Vincent Monaco on trumpet and flugelhorn, Bob Baughman on piano, David Zox on the acoustic bass, Peter Cirelli on trombone, Bill Reynolds on the drums, and Joel Springer on the tenor sax, the concert was quite an experience. The show started with “Isotope,” a bluesy, post-bebop piece by Joe Henderson. This selection was a perfect concert-starter because it introduced each musician as they played an improvisational solo following the main melody. Monaco performed first, showing his skills by letting out quick high pitches followed by low trills and fast motives. Springer followed Cirelli’s impressive performance of swooping from note to note with the ease of practice. He exhibited his talent by playing many sections in the higher register of his tenor saxophone, not letting a single pitch crack or go under. Finally Baughman, Reynolds, and Zox manufactured strongly syncopated beats and used fluctuations in dynamic to keep the audience listening and guessing. The second song, “Tom Thumb” by Wayne Shorter, was much faster and more upbeat compared to the third piece, “Infant Eyes” also by Wayne Shorter. The touching ballad was written for Shorter’s daughter, and its main theme originally included beautiful lyrics. Played with all the love a father shows for his daughter, this was perhaps the most compelling of the show’s selections. Conjuring images of people in spirited movement, “Carriba,” a samba, was energetic and loud. The piece seemed to exude joy, filling the room with a special spice that could only have come from its well-known writer, McCoy Tyner. Another interesting selection was Bill Lee’s “Jody’s Cha Cha.” Despite its name, Lee’s song was far closer to 1930’s swing than a “cha-cha.” A song with some Latin flavor followed. Another McCoy Tyner piece, with a very different Latin tune, “Senor Carlos” was very fast-paced and challenging, which allowed the musicians to flaunt their talent by playing perhaps the fastest, loudest notes of the entire performance. It was during this piece’s solos that Springer, Monaco, and Cirelli finally seemed relaxed while they looked on and encouraged the other soloists. This newfound ease followed them into the next song “Gravy Waltz” by Ray Brown, which Zox’s long solos made wonderful with melodies that chased each other up and down as the piano accompanied him. Its minuet-like qualities set it apart from the other selections, making it one of the most memorable pieces of the concert. “Nutville” by Horace Silver was a very upbeat closer, and again allowed for each performer to have a solo. As it got louder and more intense, the musicians became absorbed in the music for the last time. “Nutville’s” final chords signaled the end of a wonderful night and spectacular concert.