Battle of the Jazz Bands

There is no better way to end a restful weekend than listening to some quality blues performed by student jazz musicians. The Academy Jazz Band opened their concert with a rendition of “Tin Roof Blues” by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, performed by a student octet. The octet provided a firm, crispybeat that accompanied the melody, filling the chapel with a New Orleans feel. “Stolen Moments” by Maria Schneider featured a brave trumpet solo from Aaron Finder ’13 and a saxophone solo from Andrew Li ’10, who also stole the show with his solo in “Hanky Panky” by Bob Mintzer. Ian Sigal ’12 and Charles Pecora ’12 both performed solos in “Bird Count” by Maria Schneider that again brought a New Orleans feel into the chapel. The last piece, “Wind Machine” by Sammy Nestico, was performed by the Academy Jazz Band along with professional musicians from the Greg Hopkins Big Band. The two bands merged forming a 42-member jazz band. The big band produced a big sound and audience members bobbed their heads and tapped their feet to the music. Li and the Greg Hopkins Big Band saxophonist traded off solos in a battle. Li said, “It’s so cool that they’re professionals, and it gives you something to strive for. I got my butt kicked, but it was fun and he was really nice.” The jazz band students gave a great concert, but the performance by the Greg Hopkins Band made the concert unforgettable for both the audience and the student performers. Patrick Neidzielski ’13 said, “We didn’t actually have much time to rehearse because it’s…a short term plus there were Mondays where we just couldn’t have rehearsals…so it was difficult getting everything done…I think it went really well but we could have done better with more time.” The Greg Hopkins Big Band members were all smiles during the piece. The Greg Hopkins Band trumpets joined Instructor in Music Vincent Monaco in anchoring the trumpet section, playing loud and proud. The audience could not hold off their claps until the end as the soloists from Greg Hopkins and other members of the band performed. Hopkins jumped up and down in excitement as he conducted the band. Many band members played multiple instruments and stands on the stage displayed instruments of all keys, shapes and sizes. “This is truly great American music in a great American music place. Wow, what a hall,” said Hopkins to the audience. The Greg Hopkins Big Band’s repertoire featured every member of the band on a solo, showcasing the talents that make up such a powerful band. Hopkins went between conducting the band, playing trumpet solos and walking around the stage giving solos to anyone who wanted one. “I liked the improvisation aspect of it because you could just see the conductor walk around and be like hey do you want a solo so it was kinda cool.” Kay Gialiotti from Salem, New Hamshire said, “We think it’s wonderful, the best that could be offered to the public. These students work very hard …I would come back again and again. I thought it was excellent…It really made me feel as though I wanted to get up…and dance my little feet off.” She added, “I can feel this music in every fiber of my body,” she said. “You can forget everything in the whole world and the music just inspires you…This is a great gift to the community.”