Following three quick beats on the drum, a long, blaring trumpet note fills the dining hall as the saxophones join in with the upbeat melody. This piece, “Greetings and Salutations” by Thad Jones, was one of the eight pieces performed by the Academy Jazz Band at the Jazz Brunch on Sunday. The group’s repertoire features pieces by Jones every year.
“He’s a really important figure in jazz history and I think that it’s a really nice score that he’s written that not many bands play,” said Christopher Gagne, Instructor in Music.
The Jazz Brunch took place in Lower Right of Paresky Commons. The event is held annually during Family Weekend, and is one of the main performances put on by the Andover Jazz Band.
“I think it’s cool that they have a Jazz Band so the families can come and see it, and I hope that they do more of the similar integration to school life when parents aren’t here. I think it’s always really cool to hear students playing such good music,” said audience member Chi Igbokwe ’21.
The concert commemorated the 28th anniversary of the death of Leonard Bernstein, who many consider to be one of the greatest American composers. The band played his piece “Cool” from the film “West Side Story.” Performed as the penultimate song in the band’s program, the piece had a steady trumpet rhythm interplayed with gentle melodies on the saxophones.
The concert began with three scores by an eight-person ensemble, including “Blue Train” by John Coltrane, “Sidewinder” by Lee Morgan, and “Moanin’” by Bobby Timmons. The small group was made up of one soloist from each instrument section.
“I think that it feels more relaxed and expressive when playing with a subset of the Jazz Band. Along the way, we have figured out how to communicate with each other better, whether in solo sections or simply starting and ending each piece… Personally, my favorite small group piece was ‘Moanin.’ I really liked the piano solos at the beginning of the piece. This section has a super cool ‘question-response’ structure,” wrote saxophonist Arjun Venigalla ’19 in an email to The Phillipian.
Trumpet player Eamon Garrity-Rokous ’20 added, “I think each soloist did a superb [job] getting a feel for each of the songs and caring more about the jazz and the rhythms than the actual precise notes. I think the trombone players especially had noteworthy solos. For me, being a soloist is exhilarating. It can make you feel anxious before the times comes, but during the solo you really do get a feeling and enjoyment for the music.”
Gagne will be taking over as the main director of the group while Peter Cirelli, Instructor in Music, is on Sabbatical the next two terms. Gange expressed delight at seeing the players’ dedication to practicing their music.
“They all work really hard, they all take it very seriously. I practice [in Graves Hall] at night, and I always hear them practicing their parts. That’s a really good quality here. They go practice, so that [when] you throw [music] out there one rehearsal, by the next rehearsal they are almost totally good on it,” said Gagne.