Jazz music has been inspiring Americans since its invention in the 20th century. It is no surprise then that the improvisational- based genre would make its way to Holland to inspire members of Hope College’s community. On Wednesday, Nov. 14, four of Hope’s six jazz groups hosted a concert in the recital hall at the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts. The concert was free to students and community members alike.
Excited to show their support for the jazz department in the midst of all of the uncertainty currently surrounding the music department, the audience filled the small recital hall, with only standing room available during the show. Each of the four groups has a slightly different instrumental make-up, from flute soloists to jazz vocalists. The Verve Ensemble, coached by Jeff Shoup, opened the concert with two pieces, “Blues in the Closet” by Oscar Pettiford and “I Got Time” by George Gershwin. The group got the audience jamming from the start of the show with smooth melodies from the trumpet and a rocking drum beat. The next group to perform was the Concord Ensemble, which featured a flute soloist. The Concord Ensemble is coached by Tom Lockwood and performed the songs “Sugar” by Stanley Turrentine, “In Her Family” by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays and closed out their set with “Cold Duck Time” by Eddie Harris.
Up third, the Blue Note Ensemble delivered a slick performance of three classics: “Backstage Sally” by Wayne Shorter, “Honeysuckle Rose” by Thomas “Fats” Waller and “500 Miles High” by Chick Corea. The group is coached by Steve Talaga and featured the music department’s only jazz vocalist, sophomore Aaron Swanson. To close out the show, the Mainstream Ensemble, coached by Nate Roberts, took the stage to blow the crowd away. The group played a free jazz improvisation piece, molded with part two of “Resolution” by John Coltrane, which lasted around 20 minutes. The group featured a tenor sax soloist, Michael Pineda (‘21), and received a standing ovation from the crowd at the end of the song.
All four of these groups depend on group communication to successfully perform their music, as jazz is based on the idea of improvisation. All of the ensembles perform classic jazz repertoire, while some of the more advanced groups pull repertoire from the contemporary jazz world as well. There are also two other jazz groups, the Jazz Arts Collective and the Jazz Organ Trio, which performed at a separate concert on Nov. 20. The various ensembles in the jazz department have multiple performances each semester. In the spring semester, there will be jazz performances at the annual Musical Showcase in February, as well as in April at the Jazz Vocal concert, the Jazz Combos concert and the Jazz Arts Collective concert.
Along with performing in the music building, several students from different groups perform outside of the department around the Holland community. For more information on upcoming jazz performances, follow the music department on social media.