UCF jazz ensembles fill the air with smooth melodies and upbeat tempos
Published: Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Updated: Thursday, September 22, 2011 20:09
Clad in coats and ties, UCF jazz students provided an intimate musical performance for about 60 people at UCF's Rehearsal Hall on Tuesday that featured renditions of songs by some of jazz's most well-known performers.
Tuesday's show featured two UCF jazz chamber ensembles: the jazz workshop and the jazz chamber group. The jazz chamber group is a course for freshmen and sophomores while the jazz workshop is for juniors and seniors.
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Jeff Rupert, director of Jazz Studies at UCF, said both courses are very similar.
"They're really in essence the same thing; we just call them different things because they're technically different courses," Rupert said. "They're all UCF students. Most of them are jazz studies majors."
The jazz workshop is a six-member ensemble directed by Per Danielsson, assistant professor at UCF's music department. The performance featured a range of jazz songs, which included everything from up-tempo tracks to ballads.
One track, called "Fried Bananas," is a song written by Dexter Gordon, a late American jazz tenor saxophonist. The version the group performed is based off of a jazz standard called, "It could happen to you," said Ben Tiptonford, a senior jazz guitar major who plays in the jazz workshop. Jazz standards are known as compositions that are commonly used as the basis of jazz arrangements and improvisations. Although Tiptonford is now a jazz musician, he didn't start out that way.
"I started out playing a lot of heavy metal and stuff," Tiptonford said. "Then I got a jazz guitar instructor and he showed me a lot of stuff, and then, that just got me into it from there."
The ensembles' rendition of this track combined the use of many instruments, such as the trombone, drums, piano and guitar.
Another track they performed was "Day Dream," a ballad by jazz legend Duke Ellington. The song carried a slow tempo and had the feel of a blues track.
Following the jazz workshop was the UCF jazz chamber group, which is an eight-member ensemble under the direction of Richard Drexler, adjunct professor at UCF's music department.
One of the songs performed, "Body and Soul," by John Green, is a ballad that carried the feel of a blues song. It featured a prominent saxophone that was played at a slow place, as well as piano and drums.
Other tracks, like Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Desafinado" were more upbeat. Jobim is a Brazilian composer, and this rendition carried his influence and incorporated American jazz with samba. Other songs featured the occasional drum solo, as well as solos for other instruments.
Drexler said universities are an important venue for jazz music.
"There's not as many live performance venues as there used to be," Drexler said. "Universities are probably one of the most important things keeping the music going and alive."
Kyle Platt, a senior environmental sciences major, has been a fan of jazz for a few years. He said he found out about Tuesday's show through UCF's events website. He said there are many things that draw him to jazz music.
"The ambience and the relaxing kind of state of mind that you get in when you sit here and listen to it," Platt said. "To be able to close your eyes and just groove with the music."
Although Platt enjoyed both performances, he was particularly impressed with the jazz chamber group.
"I thought they grooved together a little bit better; there was a little bit more harmony, but both performances were just outstanding," Platt said.
Junior music major Kate Nichols was also in attendance at Tuesday's show. She said she's been a fan of jazz as long as she can remember and what draws her to the music is the sense of creativity.
Nichols said she enjoyed the performance and thought the performers did a good job of passing along their solo performances to each other. She said the future of jazz music is not an easy thing to predict.
"You know, it's hard to tell with music in general where it's headed. You never know what's going to happen the next day," Nichols said. "I think as long as you have people like this, working towards playing and learning jazz and keeping the tradition alive, I think it's still going to be around for a while."
The jazz chamber group will be performing again on Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. The event will be free and open to the public.