In a performance that included 10 different charts and spanned just over an hour, the Mercyhurst Jazz Ensemble has made a bold statement with its opening act of the school year, a concert titled “A Fall Fiesta.”
This concert, which took place on Nov. 9, had something for everyone: whether you were a fan of the Beatles, Latin, Soul or Swing, or if you just like to get funky, Scott Meier, Ph.D.’s band was there to please.
If anything, the concert was certainly a demonstration of the skill and passion of the D’Angelo School of Music’s students and performers.
The ensemble consisted of 18 students in total (five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones and five in the rhythm section).
This is certainly the most complete iteration of the jazz ensemble in a while, as for the longest time, it did not have a guitar in the rhythm section.
However, guitarist John Hetrick (sophomore, Music Education) filled in that missing part as he laid down solos and some cool wah-wah pedal action.
The rhythm section was certainly a noteworthy part of the concert, with special note to closing chart, “La Fiesta,” featuring a frenzied drum solo by Ethan Wicker (junior, Music Education).
And of course, the horn section itself sounded great too, providing most of the melodies and solos that were featured throughout the concert.
The overall concert discography, as noted before, was certainly diverse.
From pieces by jazzers of note such as Pat Matheny’s “Dream of the Return” featuring trombonist Martin Webster (senior, Music), Sammy Nestico’s “Basie-Straight Ahead” and Chick Corea’s “La Fiesta,” to the unexpected McCartney and Lennon’s “Eleanor Rigby” (with a Latin twist) and Don Sebesky’s “Soul Lady,” the Jazz Ensemble’s “A Fall Fiesta” provided the goods to those who came to see the ensemble perform.
Other charts that were featured included Neal Hefti’s “Splanky” (arranged by Sammy Nestico), Erik Morales’s “Alianza,” Mark Taylor’s “Granada Smoothie,” Jeff Jarvis’ “Critical Mass” and
Edward and Young’s “When I Fall in Love” (arranged by Craig Skeffington).
Perhaps the highlight of the concert for myself, though, was the funkier second half.
That was when pianist Jacob Perry (freshman, Music Education) was truly able to shine.
Perry demonstrated true virtuosity, playing up and down the keyboard, crafting mesmerizing and impassioned solos for the audience.
I got personal satisfaction during his “Eleanor Rigby” improvisation, when he capped off his work with “The Lick.”
Beyond the actual music, Meier provided more than enough entertainment with his segways between pieces.
The Mercyhurst Jazz Ensemble concerts have always been a laid back yet vibrant experience, and this performance was no exception.
There was an interspersing of stories and jokes in between the pieces, and the audience can always expect a few laughs from Meier’s antics.
Baritone saxophonist Greta Stoner (sophomore, Music Education) even got up and told a joke right before the final piece of the night.
I would implore the Mercyhurst community, and the Erie community as a whole, to come out and see the Jazz Ensemble when they next perform, which will be their Christmas concert.
Jazz fan or not, you won’t want to miss this show.
The enjoyment you’ll get is worth far more than the ticket costs.