A Jazzy Night at Studley

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Flickr Roger Smith.

On Thursday, Nov. 20 SUNY New Paltz’s chamber jazz ensemble took the stage of the Julien J. Studley Theater at 8 p.m.

Adjunct Professor Jeff Siegel directed the concert. The concert featured ensemble one and two that played classic Jazz pieces by Duke Ellington and also surprised the audience with R&B tunes.

Students practiced for the concert twice a week for about an hour. Both the performers and Siegel chose the songs in the concert. According to third-year Jonathan Francke, a jazz performance major that played bass in ensemble one said Siegel brought in tunes that the performers chose from, and performers Gary Patrik and Jeremiah Mahoney brought in “Stars Fell on Alabama” and “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat.”

Ensemble two opened the show with a classic jazz tune “Bag’s Groove” by Milt Jackson. Other songs performed by ensemble two included “St Thomas” by Sonny Rollins, “Peel Me a Grape” by Dave Frishberg and they closed their set with “Take Five” by Paul Desmond.

Second-year creative writing and history double major Orr Klein really liked ensemble two’s performance of “St. Thomas.”

“How they used the steel drum was really cool and impressive,” Klein said.

The second performance by ensemble one began their act in a very unique way that grabbed the audience’s attention.

Third-year music major, Jeremiah Mahoney made his entrance to the stage as he laid out in the front of the stage. The music began to play, other musicians came from behind the curtain and Mahoney jumped up energetically which excited the crowd and the band.

Such energy can be credited to the chemistry in the band that was apparent to the audience members.

Francke, who plays in a jazz and R&B band called Oakwood Underground, said the band got along really well because many have previously played together in classes and other ensembles.

“There was always so much energy in everything we played to the point where some of our rehearsals were just as fun and exciting as the show itself,” he said.

Casey Richards, vocalist of ensemble one, a fourth-year vocal jazz major with a tentative minor in philosophy was also enthusiastic about the chemistry among the group.

“I very much enjoyed the dynamic we achieved in rehersals and that definitely contributed to my active participation. We were very lucky to have clicked on personal and professional levels and I think that came across in our performance,” Richards said.

Paul Brown, a second year psychology major enjoyed “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat” and “Afro Blue,” performed by ensemble one.

“[Richards] spoke French in ‘Everybody Wants to Be a Cat’ and that was really amazing. The song was smooth and dancey,” Brown said.

Richards, also a vocalist in both the coed and all female A Capella groups on campus and lead singer of local band Keys to the Moon, found it tough to pick a favorite piece to perform with the band.

“Maybe ‘St. James’,” she said. “I really liked our arrangement and energy on that tune. Although ‘Afro Blue’ might be a close second, partially because the style of it was very different from the rest and partially because I loved listening to Russell [Hartman] solo his face off [on the Tenor Saxophone].”

Both Richards and Mahoney were very enthusiastic about Professor Siegel as the director of the concert.

Richards said she loved working with Professor Siegel.

“I think he did an excellent job of providing guidance and expert advice while simultaneously allowing us to explore our own musical knowledge and preferences,” she said.

“Jeff is my favorite ensemble teacher I’ve ever had,” Mahoney said.