Oct 042011
Authors: Marcus Moritz

Jazz is sometimes informally defined as “a collection of musicians all in the same place playing different songs at once.”

Tonight there will be a jazz ensemble showcasing just that style of music. The concert will be held in the Griffin concert hall at the University Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m.

The ensemble is part of the curriculum for one of the music performance classes at CSU.

The concert is going to mainly be the style of bebop jazz, which originates from the 1950s and ‘60s.

“It is fun and daring music, with a sense of humor and athleticism,” said Peter Sommers, the director of the ensemble. “It is usually defined by its intricate rhythms and melodies, coupled with an advanced sense of harmony when compared to music from the swing era.”

This particular jazz style is traditionally faster than regular jazz, with a large part of bebop focusing on improvisation and solos.

“There will be a lot of energy coming from the band,” Ryan Sullivan, a fourth year trumpet performance major said. “We are only playing two or three songs that have slow tempos.”

The jazz style also focuses on big band performance, an aspect that the ensemble will also be showing off tonight.

“Every era of jazz is written partially for a big jazz group,” said Jennifer Clary, a spokesperson for the music department and the jazz ensemble.

“It will be a good chance to get to know the band,” Sullivan said. “No one is going to be buried or not get to play more than others. There is also going to be a lot of improv.”

As well as showing what bebop is, the jazz ensemble will also be performing artists from the bebop era that represent the sound of the 1950s and ‘60s jazz scene.

“Dizzy Gillespie, the great trumpeter, wrote many great bebop tunes that lend themselves to arrangement, so he is the most represented,” Sommers said.

The performers are part of the music department, and to get into the jazz performance classes, you must audition for a spot.

“I became a jazz trumpeter for my love of jazz music,” Sullivan said. “My dad taught music and was always listening to jazz artists like Miles Davis and Fred Hersch, which made me want to become a trumpet player.”

Because bebop jazz focuses a lot on improvisation, it lends itself to certain musical qualities that other jazz styles lack.

“The focus of my study is improv. You have to have a certain level of technical ability before you can be able to do it properly and still do well,” Sullivan said. “My favorite part of playing bebop jazz is the challenge; it is played at a faster tempo, so there is a feeling of gratification of success when you play the changes in the music properly.”

Collegian writer Marcus Moritz can be reached at verve@collegian.com

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