With Improvised Solos and Jazzy Renditions of Classical Music, Faculty Hold Jazz Concert

As Bertram Lehmann, Adjunct Instructor in Music, pounded on the drums in spontaneous improvisation, nearly every head in the audience bobbed along to his rhythm. The beat stopped abruptly for a split second as the musicians exchanged a look, before they picked up the melody all together for one final flourish.

The Faculty Jazz Concert took place in the Timken Room of Graves Hall on Sunday. The concert featured an original composition by Bob Baughman, Adjunct Instructor in Music, as well as nine other classical jazz compositions.

Baughman’s piece, “Fables of Frederick,” played off of a well-known, classical theme from Frédéric Chopin’s “Waltz in C Sharp Minor,” and remixed it with clashing chords and an offbeat rhythm. Taking on a new jazzy groove, the piece held a disconnected rhythm as well as trumpet, trombone, and tenor saxophone harmonies.

“It’s a familiar melody, but you can put it in a jazz context and it works well as a jazz vehicle too… It is gratifying to write something with some sort of familiarity, possibly, with the audience, but yet you reform it to make it kind of fresh and toe tapping,” said Baughman.

In contrast to the mostly upbeat rhythms of the concert, “Soul Eyes” by Mal Waldron was a romantically slow and moody piece with smooth trumpet and saxophone solos. The piano and pronounced bass lines provided a light platform for the brass instruments, and the drums were distinctly subdued.

While the concert consisted mostly of pre-arranged compositions, the musicians also showcased improvisation on stage. In “No Return” by John McLaughlin, each musician would take turns improvising on their respective instrument before returning to the swinging cadence of the piece. In particular, Peter Cicco, Adjunct Instructor in Music, and Raleigh Green, Adjunct Instructor in Music, both on the guitar, would walk around the stage facing each other, trading motifs and harmonies back and forth on the spot.

Cedric Elkouh ’18, an audience member, said, “I liked the [McLaughlin piece] because I think it ended on a dramatic, exciting note. I really enjoyed [Green’s] solo playing because I liked the intricacy of his playing and his interactions with the other guitar player.”

The concert closed with “Jordu” by Duke Jordan. The piece started with disjointed piano chords, before the brass instruments joined the light melody. The tune continued, before it launched into a quick, improvised piano solo. The brass instruments repeated three low phrases before the piece ended with cymbal crashes from the drums.

“The tune that I brought in was ‘Jordu’, and that’s a tune that was played a lot by a very well known trumpet player who died very young in the ’50s, and so I thought [a piece by him] would be fun to perform,” said Vincent Monaco, a trumpetist and Instructor in Music. “I don’t really have a favorite piece [performed at the concert]. [The pieces] all have their own personality and they are all fun to play, so it’s not like pick one and ‘Oh, I can’t wait for that one!’ They’re all pretty much fun to do!”