Members of the audience closed their eyes and nodded to the rhythm of the blues echoing in Cochran Chapel from Andover’s Academy Jazz Band concert on Sunday.
This term’s concert featured a guest artist brought by the Thomas D. Chapin Fund, a fund in honor of the Class of 1975. The Academy Jazz Band invited the Leo Blanco Trio, which consists of Leo Blanco on the piano, Bruno Raberg on the bass and Henrique De Almeida on the drums.
A student trio with pianist Harvey Wu ’14, bassist Amo Manuel ’14 and drummer Junius Williams ’14 kicked off the concert with “Wave” by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Peter Cirelli, Instructor and Chair in Music and the band director, introduced the modern jazz bossa nova piece.
“I like the student trio a lot because the way they perform complimented each other. The three instruments are so different and independent, but they sounded really well together. They had a common melody, but each had its own variations, which made it unique,” said Brian Paul Robert ’16.
The student trio also showcased “Tricotism” by Oscar Pettiford and “Round Midnight” by Thelonious Monk.
“When we played ‘Round Midnight’ you may have noticed how we almost ended the piece, then proceeded to play the head again. I brought this up as I believed it was probably one of the most memorable events in our playing,” said Wu.
The Academy Jazz Band followed with the famous samba piece “Upa Neguinho” by the contemporary Brazilian composer Edu Lobo.
Fast-paced with vigorous tunes, “Upa Neguinho” was one of the most enthusiastic parts of the performance. The drum echoed the tempo set by the trumpet every few bars, creating communication back and forth between the instruments.
Leo Blanco, the guest pianist, joined the Academy Jazz Band in “Young and Foolish” by Albert Hague and “500 Miles High” by Chick Corea.
“Jazz is like a little snowball that goes from the top of the hill down to an avalanche, and takes everything around,” said Blanco.
“Young and Foolish” spotlights Blanco’s tricks and improvisation on the piano, whereas “500 Miles High” features the high notes on a piano by mimicking a flying bird.
Afterwards, the Leo Blanco Trio took over the stage and showcased five songs composed by Blanco, including “Dance in India,” “Roots and Effect,” “Light over Dark,” “Waltz No. 5” and “African Latina.”
For “Dance in India,” Blanco surprised the audience by standing up and pressing the strings inside the piano to mimic ethnic Indian music. Blanco even used the microphone to his mouth and started to hum while playing the piano.
“South America and Africa are my inspirations. I have the good luck of traveling around the world. Everything I experience and learn goes into my music. I really don’t think much when I’m playing. It’s the very nowness that goes into the music,” said Blanco.
“Jazz is tremendous that it combines so many different skills. It has wonderful traditions, but also involves and absorbs different influences. As you heard this afternoon, they were listening to each other and playing things that they hadn’t planned to do. They just happened, spontaneously,” said Cirelli.