Concert pays homage to Jersey composer

The College’s Jazz Ensemble brought together a century of foot-tapping, finger-snapping music during its performance in Kendall Hall Thursday evening.

Featuring the songs of renowned jazz composer and ’70s bebop saxophone player Richie Cole and the inventive stylings of 20th century trumpet player Thad Jones, the program spanned several eras in jazz history.

“I tried to pick different styles from different periods in the past 100 years,” Gary Fienberg, program director and assistant professor of music, said. “I picked a lot of Richie Cole’s songs.”

Cole, a New Jersey native who is set to join the Music Department faculty next fall, was scheduled to perform as a featured guest artist.

Travel complications prevented him from attending the event, though audience members felt his presence in songs like “Trenton Style.”

Drummer Shane Mullin, freshman business management major, felt that the song “had a different feel than everything else.” Remarking on its unusual rhythmic arrangement, Mullin said that “‘Trenton Style’ really showed what the band is capable of.”

In an impressive feat, the musicians played Cole’s piece sans-conductor when a smiling Fienberg stepped off the stage and joined the audience.

“I thought it was really swinging,” Fienberg said. “Everyone was having a good time.”

Soloists included Douglas Neder, freshman political science major, on piano; Steven Cooney, sophomore music major, on alto saxophone; Jordan Smith, sophomore music major, on alto saxophone; Joe Martinez, freshman music major, on trumpet; and Jason Price, junior music major, on drums.

Jones,’ work was also featured prominently in the program. Songs like “To You” and “Harold’s House of Jazz” helped to solidify his place in jazz history.

Fienberg called the audience’s attention to the chorale-like sounds and unexpected blues interludes that pervade and characterize his unique style.

The ensemble’s outstanding performance demonstrated how Jones manages to span all the tones of the harmonic system while still crafting a defined melody line.

The band later performed Jones’ “Tip Toe” and “A Child is Born,” which Fienberg said represent the “eclectic and sublime side of jazz.”

The director described the attributes of “A Child is Born,” whose “pristine, transparent melody is uncharacteristically simple” for a jazz piece.

Featured performer Ryan Hewitt, junior music major, serenaded the audience first on the trumpet and later on the flugelhorn. Senior music major Dan Willis also delighted the crowd with his performance of “Bye Bye Blues.”

Cole Porter’s well-known song “Anything Goes” was included in the program to the delight of many audience members.

Melissa Mijares, freshman English major, said the song was “a real foot-stomper.”

“The band is really strong as an ensemble and the trombone section is phenomenal,” she added.

The evening included a guest appearance by student-founded jazz group Retrograde. Composed of junior music majors, the band featured Anthony Falisi on saxophone, Jason Price on drums, Craig Stanton on bass and Joe Stellino on piano.

The audience clapped along for part of the performance, with many recognizing the song “Come Together” by the Beatles.

Stellino said he was “proud of Retrograde for performing so well.”

Trumpet player Colleen McDonald, freshman music education major, summed up her experience: “We did really well. We sounded great and it was a lot of fun.”