Jazz it up at Mercyhurst

Jeanette Fournier, Staff writer

The Mercyhurst Jazz Ensemble will be giving a concert on Saturday, at 8 p.m. in Taylor Little Theatre.
The ensemble, led by Scott Meier, Ph.D., will be performing a variety of pieces, one of which is “Superbone Meets the Bad Man” by Jay Chattaway, originally recorded by Maynard Ferguson.
“It’s a high energy swing chart,” said Caden Gilson, junior Music major and member of the Jazz Ensemble.
The piece will feature sophomore Music major Martin Webster on trombone and Gilson on baritone saxophone.
“Moten Swing,” by Buster and Benny Moton of Count Basie’s orchestra, is also on the list of repertoire the ensemble will offer on their concert.
“It has a nice, tasteful swing feel featuring some light switch dynamics sure to keep you on your feet,” Gilson said.
The ensemble will be playing “How Sweet It Is,” by Sammy Nestico.
“It’s a cool, laidback blues chart featuring solos by senior Music Education major Kevin Timko on alto saxophone, senior Intelligence major Matt Rodgers on trumpet and adult student Music Education major Joe Porter on trombone,” Gilson said.
“We’ll be playing ‘Get In Line,’ by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band,” Gilson said.
“It’s an edgy, rugged, fast paced funk tune.”
“Get In Line” will feature solos by Timko on alto saxophone, Gilson on baritone saxophone and Rodgers on guitar.
Also on the program is “Computer,” by Bob Mintzer.
“This piece is very cool,” said Gilson.
“When all parts play together, it emulates a functioning machine.”
“Computer” will feature solos by freshman Music Therapy major Miranda Wall on tenor saxophone and freshman Music Education major Lauren Tucci on drums.
The ensemble will also play “Straight No Chaser” by Thelonious Monk, originally recorded by Buddy Rich and his Band.
“It’s a medium fast swing chart with impressive licks from the saxophone section, featuring Timko on the alto sax,” Gilson said. “It’s raw, it’s cool; you don’t need no chaser for this one.”
They will also perform two ballads, “Goodbye My Heart,” by Mike Smuckal, and “I Remember Clifford,” by Benny Golson.
“‘Goodbye My Heart’ is a huge alto sax piece, with huge, luscious chords and a moving melody from Timko on alto sax,” Gilson said.
“I Remember Clifford” was written in honor of the jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown after his unexpected passing. “It’s a reflective ballad,” said Gilson.
“It’s a written remembrance of Brown’s legacy in the jazz world.”
“I Remember Clifford” will feature senior Music Education member Sierra Decola on trumpet.
Some of Meier’s goals for the members of Jazz Ensemble include learning how to listen to the sections around them and blend as an ensemble.
“He wants us to learn how to create the best sound possible, find that pocket and fit in there, because that’s how we’re going to create the most swingin’ and in-sync sound we can as a group of musicians,” explained Gilson.
When asked why Mercyhurst students and other members of the Erie community should attend the Mercyhurst Jazz Ensemble concert, Gilson replied: “Why not? The charts are fun and exciting, and they really show a different side of the music department. We’re not just classical musicians; we’re here to have fun, too, and this music allows us to just let loose and jazz it up.”