Faculty Jazz Concerts Wows Crowd at Studley

Photo courtesy of newpaltz.edu.
Ranging  from The Great Gatsby-like tempos to dream-like sequences, the Jazz Faculty Concert celebrate done of America’s greatest form of musical expression this past Tuesday at Study Theatre.

The performance was formed by seven members of the music department, including special guest Dean Sharp, to play well-known compositions such as “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and “Blackbird” as well as their own at the intimate theater.

Romantically lit and privately small, the concert started with uptempo tunes and later progressed to ballads and original compositions by faculty members. Faculty members took turns introducing themselves and explaining the meaning behind their songs to the public. Rebecca Franks, an adjunct professor and skilled trumpet player, was first. Franks explained that her song “Moving On” is about when she quit her job and needed to vent her emotions in some sort of way, thus trying to move on from the experience. 

While audience members may think that the jazz faculty prepared long and hard for their hour-and-a-half long performance, saxophone player David Savitsky explained that they rehearsed perhaps only an hour before the show started, with some parts being improvised. 

“I missed probably like half of the rehearsal, but the thing is we help each other out and come together,” Savitsky said.

It was clear that they were all in perfect unison. When anyone slipped up a bit, it was rapidly fixed in a short moment, showing the true artistry of the musicians and the guidance they give each other.

First-year music therapy major Michael Flanagan greatly enjoyed the event. Last semester, Flanagan was enrolled in History of Jazz with jazz vocalist and professor Teri Roiger, who captivated the audience with her voice.

“As someone who plays instruments and greatly enjoys live performances, I thought the concert provided by the faculty was a great way to show unity and to just have a good time while playing,” he said. “It was [also] nice seeing my teacher in her true environment.”

While music majors know and continuously learn the technical aspects of jazz, there is no denying that everyone could simply feel the energy from the concert through the performers unity and solo performances showcasing individual talent.  

Gestures such as foot tapping, head nodding and claps were frequent throughout and the theatre was just overall enticed by the smooth tunes that sometimes made you drift away into some sort of daydream. 

To create this sort of high-level performance, Savitsky said that “the critical part is connecting with the audience. It needs energy and a bit of truth to it.” Jazz shouldn’t be too serious, he pointed out.

“For just a moment, I want people to forget about everything,” he explained.

For more information on the Spring Concert Series, visit newpaltz.edu/music/concertseries.html