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ISSUE 120 VOL 20 PUBLISHED 5/4/2007

Jazz I plays new rhythms

By Maren Anderson
Contributing Writer

Friday, May 4, 2007

On Friday night, a standing-room only crowd packed the Pause, which inspired the musicians' performance: "I know that I play so much better when I know people are listening, "pianist and keyboardist Ben Baker '09 said. Even with two additions to the band this spring, Jazz I performed a lively and diverse program mixed with classic jazz, Latin jazz and new age.

The group successfully responded to this semester's change in conductor from Dave Hagedorn (who is currently on sabbatical) to Laura Caviani. Caviani's musical training at Lawrence College inspired some of the changes in the evening's repertoire. Baker characterizes Strum's arrangements of Astor Piazolli's Latin music as "a little off the traditionally-beaten path," adding a new global perspective to the show."

"This new style reflects the interests of both Hagedorn and Caviani, as both show a lot of interest in using jazz to interpret music from different cultures around the world," Jazz I trumpeter Kevin Friede '09 said.

This semester's guest artist Mike B. Nelson complimented the show with his musicianship and own works. With his impressive professional resume including recording and touring with Prince for a decade (1991-2001), performing with Sammy Davis Jr., Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Mandy Moore and Lenny Kravitz, Nelson brought a range of expertise that augmented the show's style. Jazz I even featured one of Nelson's original works.

"He tweaked our playing of the music a bit so it fit what he wanted," Baker said. "In that respect, it's always nice to have the composer of a piece present when you're performing a tune, because you get reliable feedback on what the music is supposed to sound and feel like."

Even with these added elements, the group saved room in the program for jazz greats, such as Duke Ellington. Jazz I demonstrated its diversity of capacity and musical talent on Friday night. With few seniors in the band, Jazz I can only carry and build on Friday night's impressive showcase.

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