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ISSUE 121 VOL 16 PUBLISHED 4/11/2008

Koenigsberg performs

By Meg Granum
Contributing Writer

Friday, April 11, 2008

On Friday night, April 4, renowned jazz pianist Toby Koenigsberg performed in Urness Recital Hall, captivating the audience with his fresh and rich music. His unique drive and style made for a creative and commanding tone, which enthralled the audience. "[His sound] was really solid and fun to listen to," Anna Bakk '10 said.

This recital featured a mix of classic jazz pieces with more popular and folk music, which made for a more exciting and diverse program. "I thought his incorporation of pop and folk music made his performance more accessible to classical musicians without a lot of jazz background," Andrew Watt '11 said.

Koenigsberg began with the classic Cole Porter piece "Just One of Those Things." The light and frivolous sound combined with rhythmic left hand for a very entertaining opening. In contrast, "Sweet Dreams" by Victor Young and Sam Lewis, with its relaxed and silky sound lulled the audience back in time to the heyday of late-night jazz clubs. This piece particularly showcased Koenigsberg's talent, allowing the audience to virtually hear the original instrumentation sound through.

This recital featured pieces full of beautiful jazz dissonances, such as in "Never Let Me Go" by Jay Livingston and Raymond Evans. This gentle piece was slow and dark, yet the hauntingly inviting melodies captured the audience's rapt attention. Koenigsberg also played some very rhythmically challenging pieces such as "Evidence" by Thelonious Monk and "Giant Steps" by John Coltrane. While playing these pieces, Koenigsberg seemed very relaxed and in tune with the music. "It seemed like he put a lot of feeling in it, especially when he played 'Never Let Me Go,'" Nick Wilson '11 said.

The spectacular tone and vivacity of Koenigsberg's playing was to be expected because of his impressive and full résumé. Koenigsberg received his undergraduate degree at the University of Oregon, where he is currently an assistant professor of jazz piano, as well as associate director of jazz studies. He participated in graduate study at the Peabody Conservatory, followed by a master's degree from the Eastman School of Music. While at Eastman, Koenigsberg received the prestigious Eastman School of Music's Schirmer Award for his outstanding jazz performance.

Having performed all throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, France and Japan, Koenigsberg has had much experience both as a soloist and as a collaborative jazz artist. He has toured with artists such as Marian McPartland, Eddie Gomez, Rich Perry, Ron Miles, Ben Monderand Bill Holman. He has also created a reputation for himself in jazz scholarship and pedagogy. Koenigsberg has been published for his work in the Jazz Educational Journal and has given lectures and demonstrations on the music of Bud Powell.

In addition to the expert performance, Koenigsberg kept up a dialogue with the audience throughout the evening. Before each piece, he would tell his listeners a little bit about it and what it meant to him. This dialogue allowed him to build a relationship with the audience members and help them to get into the intimate spirit of his playing, something that is not typical during a classical performance.

"There's such a barrier with classical piano. Taking the time to build the relationship makes the performance better," Kevin Peterson '11 said. While this recital was expertly performed and incorporated many different kinds of pieces, it was a bit of a safe program. Koenigsberg's technical skills are impeccable; however, his performance occasionally lacked that extra excitement or enthusiasm to make it stellar. The pieces he performed were all very well played, but with the exception of one or two, could have used more contrast and energy.

Overall, it was a solid program full of great playing.

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