Jazz Band Visits Brazil

This Sunday, Latin Jazz filled Cochran Chapel as the Phillips Academy Jazz Band played its final concert of the year. While the Chapel was noticeably less full than usual, it was filled with friends, parents and grandparents happily tapping their feet to the rhythm, itching to dance along.

“I think the concert went really well, there was just something so powerful about being together onstage playing the music that we love,” said saxophonist Arianna Chang ’13.

The opening piece was slow and rhythmic with a steady beat and great dynamics. The piece featured Hunter Schlacks’11 on the tenor saxphone and Michael Scognamiglio ’10 on the piano.

The Jazz Band then performed “Manteca,” a forceful, upbeat piece that had many of the players tapping their feet. The lively, South American nuance of the piece put the audience in a buoyant mood. “Manteca” had the band’s conductor, Music Department Chair Peter Cirelli tapping his feet and, at times, dancing along to the music.

The next piece, “Afro Blue” by Mongo Santamaria, used a complex polymeter, incorporating multiple time signatures for one piece.

As Cirelli described it, “[The Band] did a really good job. [Afro Blue] was very complex rhythmically to put together, especially in the Chapel. The resonance makes it really difficult to hear each other’s rhythms.”

“I enjoyed the complexity of the pieces. It was truly impressive—the polyrhythmic themes are not easy for seasoned musicians to accomplish and this band did a fantastic job” said Rebecca Sykes, Assistant Head of School.

The piece featured Andrew Li ’10 on the saxophone and Charles Guan ’12 on the trumpet. Li’s solo was musical and vibrant, his love of the music confidently coming through. Guan’s solo was beautiful as well, though a bit more hesitant and somewhat overpowered by the rest of the orchestra.

The penultimate performance of the concert featured “Brazil.” The piece truly captured the South American country with its slow, mellow beginning which contrasted very well with the fast and lively ending. The middle section consisted of a wonderful percussion interlude, and the rest of the piece ended with a strong, steady beat. This piece featured Guan once again on the trumpet and Charlie Pecora ’12 on the saxophone. Pecora’s solo had a strong beat and beautifully captured melody. In this piece Guan was more confident and played with a ringing clearness that captivated the audience.

“I felt the concert went pretty well, [though] I was not quite as prepared as I could [have been],” said Guan. However as Guan finished speaking, a fellow band member came and said “Charles is too modest, he did great”.

After “Brazil” came the prize ceremony. Rohan Malhotra ’11 and Charlie Pecora ’12 received the Rex Chao ’94 Prize for summer studies. Philip Hoffer ’10 received the Robert Warsaw Prize for his love of music and overall musicianship. Lastly Andrew Li ’10 received the overall Jazz Band Prize for his love of and dedication to the band.

After the ceremony came the finale, an undeniable highlight of the performance and the favorite of most audience members. The “King of the Timbake” featured guitarist Evan Hoyt ’11 joining the percussion section on the cowbells. The piece featured Derek Farquhar ’12 on the guitar, Li on the saxophone and Scognamiglio on the piano. All three performed the syncopated rhythm and contrasting dynamics with prowess. This energetic piece built up throughout the music and ended the concert on a high and loud note.

Scognamiglio said after the performance, “This was the best concert ever.”