Music Professors “Jazz It Up”

On Tuesday Night, Feb. 10, the SUNY New Paltz Jazz Faculty performed a number of jazz standards at 8 p.m. in the Julien J. Studley Theater.

The group featured professors Mark Dziuba on guitar, Teri Roiger on vocals, Vincent Martucci on piano, John Menegon on bass, Jeff Siegel on drums, Rebecca Coupe-Franks on trumpet and David Savitsky on alto saxophone. The nine tunes that were going to be performed during the evening were not listed in the program; the performers themselves announced each tune individually before the group played it.

Once the lights dimmed the group (minus Roiger) took the stage to thunderous applause and Menegon introduced the first song, “Blue Monk” by Thelonius Monk. “Blue Monk” featured guitar, trumpet, saxophone, piano, bass and drum solos from Dziuba, Coupe-Franks, Savitsky, Martucci, Menegon and Siegel respectively. With almost every member of the band taking a solo, it was a great opener that showcased all the talent the crowd was going to hear during the night.

The second song of the night, introduced by Coupe-Franks, was “Dig” by Miles Davis. It featured trumpet, saxophone, piano, and drum solos. After the drum solo by Siegel, Roiger finally took the stage and had scatted along to a trumpet solo by Coupe-Franks. The first two songs had a great feel to them and were great openers for the concert.

The third song, “Living Room” by Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach, took the tempo of the concert down a bit. The ballad was a nice change from the bop and swing tunes that opened the concert and gave the show a nice sense of variety. Coupe-Franks and Savitsky left the stage for this song and Roiger showed her great vocal chops along with solos from Martucci and Dziuba. This song had a great feel to it.

The fourth song, “Detour Ahead” by Herb Ellis, was another ballad and once again featured Roiger on vocals. The whole group was on stage for this one and it featured solos from Martucci and Menegon. Throughout the song, Coupe-Franks played very tasteful fills behind Roiger’s vocals which made the performance of this song that much better.

Roiger left the stage after the fourth song and Martucci announced the fifth song, “Eternal Triangle” by Sonny Stitt. The tempo of the concert rose once again with this song and left the ballad feel of the previous two behind.  This song once again featured solos from every one of the instrumental performers in the group and was another nice showcase of the talent of the faculty at SUNY New Paltz.

The sixth song, my personal favorite of the evening, was “Interplay” by Bill Evans and was announced by saxophonist David Savitsky. Roiger and Coupe-Franks did not participate in this song and thus featured one of the smaller incarnations of the group. This song was a great showcase of professor Savitsky’s talent and the solo section of the song featured guitarist Mark Dziuba and Savitsky going back and forth for an amazing trade solo. As a saxophonist myself, Savitsky’s solos and playing were the highlight of the night for me.

Before the seventh song, “The Blessing” by Ornette Coleman, Mark Dziuba formally announced the members of the group. “The Blessing” featured one soloist, professor Jeff Siegel on the drums and it was easily one of the best solos of the night. It was a great showcase of the rhythmic talent of  Siegel. The fifth, sixth and seventh songs of the evening were all great up-tempo songs but the concert was about to take one final slow turn before the big finale. The eighth song of the evening once again featured Roiger on vocals and was a balled entitled “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You” by Billie Holiday.

Before Siegel announced the final song of the evening, he thanked everyone for coming out to the show and re-introduced the group. The final song of the evening was “Simone” by Frank Foster. Each instrumentalist had a solo to themselves and the last solo section featured every instrumentalist trading with Siegel for a rocking ending to the show. The group received a huge ovation during their bows at the end of the show.

Third-year engineering major Dante Peluso enjoyed his first jazz concert experience.

“The music was really soothing and was a great way to relax from the rigorous hours of work that we all have,” he said. “I would definitely attend more jazz concerts in the future.”

Second year digital media management major Heather Handler echoed Peluso’s thoughts.

“I thought the concert was great overall, especially the soloing from all the musicians. I don’t normally attend jazz concerts but it was really a cool show and there wasn’t a boring moment,” Handler said.