From Classical Jazz to Improvised Bebop: Andover’s Music Faculty Performs Annual Jazz Concert Ava Chen

Staff and students alike gathered in the Timken Room of Graves Hall to hear seven of Andover’s music faculty members perform a lively selection of jazz pieces. These included bebop songs, classic jazz ballads, modal jazz tunes, and more. Piano player and Adjunct Music Instructor Bob Baughman discussed the diversity of songs performed.

“The bebop ones would be ‘I Mean You,’ and ‘Martha’s Prize.’ ‘Black Narcissus’ is a modal-type tune… ‘Peace’ is a beautiful, classic jazz ballad. My tune [‘Forever’] is kind of different because it is a Beethoven melody I harmonized with jazz harmonies and rhythm…. The cha-cha/salsa piece was the one by Eddie Palmieri, and that’s really fun to play, especially on the piano. The piano can be more like a percussion instrument in a way. That’s what I like, the variety of the program,” said Baughman.

Last Sunday, Paul Meland, Vinny Monaco, Peter Cirelli, Dave Zox, Bretram Lehmann, Peter Cicco, and Baughman performed in the annual Faculty Jazz Concert. Each song was chosen by one of these music instructors and played on instruments ranging from trombone to bass. This performance also functioned as an opportunity to welcome Meland, a new saxophone instructor at Andover, to the stage. Cirelli, who played the slide trombone and valve trombone, reflected on how the concert went.

“I think it was very successful. We as musicians always know moments, when we were a little off from each other or each player, might have been a little off within themselves, not feeling strong, but generally, I think it went pretty well…. One special part was that we have a new saxophone instructor this year, Paul Meland. This was the first time playing with us, so it was really fun to hear him,” said Cirelli.

In terms of the preparation process, the musicians initially communicated via email about song choice and rehearsal times. They practiced their parts individually, then met as a group for one in-person rehearsal before the concert. Especially in the pandemic’s aftermath, Cicco talked about the opportunity the Faculty Jazz Concert offered the musical faculty to formally perform in-person together.

“We’re always running into each other and saying ‘hi’ in this building [Graves], but we actually get in the same room for a couple of hours and play… We don’t get to do that very often, really. After the pandemic, there haven’t been so many times,” said Cicco.

A musically technical challenge the performers faced was Baughman’s song, “Black Narcissus.” This piece employed a complex metric modulation that Meland came up with, at a point switching the rhythm from “a three-feel to a four-feel” according to Cicco. Audience member Bianca Mohamed ’26 commented on how she enjoyed this unique rhythm, as well as the concert as a whole.

“I liked ‘Black Narcissus’ a lot. It was cool. I enjoyed the vibe and the beat underneath… I’ve been to mainly concerts that were performed at my middle school, and [these were] distinct pieces. They all had their own thing going on, which was nice,” said Mohamed.

Overall, rather than having one favorite moment in the concert, Baughman enjoyed the general “flow” of exciting music throughout. He explained how he found the uniquely impromptu nature of jazz especially compelling.

“Jazz has that element of improvisation, which is the element of surprise that other musics don’t have so much other than the first time you hear it. When you hear someone improvise, it’s a new creation, that solo. When someone solos, you don’t know, the nature of the solo’s going to be different every time,” said Baughman.

Peter Cicco, Adjunct Instructor of Music, plays guitar in the Phillips Academy Faculty Jazz Ensemble.