Professors Jazz Up McKenna

For some reason, it’s a little hard to grasp the fact that professors are “real people.” So, seeing a handle of them take the stage at McKenna Theatre on Tuesday, Feb. 28 to showcase a mix of original and standard jazz tunes helped restore my faith that teachers live other, grander lives outside the classroom. And, since I’m not a music major, it’s even cooler to see how they can nicely blend their talents together and not just exhibit them through teaching all of SUNY New Paltz’s passionate and promising young musicians.

I couldn’t help but smile throughout the majority of the set. Each member of the Faculty Jazz Recital nonchantly guided the audience into their very own midnight jazz club. It’s an experience in itself just to watch the professors work together — they are very professional and precise with their solos, but at the same time provide such a comfortable feel as if they are playing just for you right in your living room. The intimacy was marvelous.

The small group combined a short set of songs including Django Reinhardt’s “Minor Swing” and Lee Morgan’s “The Lion and the Wolf,” bringing together a perfect mixture of bass (John Menegon, guitar (Mark Dziuba), drums (Jeff Siegel), piano (Vinnie Martucci), sax (David Savitsky) and trumpet (Rebecca Coupe Franks). Violonist Carole Cowan added an incredible flavor to a few of the songs in the set. Although some songs included vocalist Teri Roiger, I enjoyed the instrumentals more. They seemed to flow more naturally.

Overall, I was pleased to share the warmth of the evening hearing smooth and soulful jazz come on campus. It’s nice to say professors still have it, and aren’t just squeezing out all they’ve got for the youngin’s.