Concert offers campus a taste of jazz

Kendall Hall was filled with music, applause and entertainment on Friday night as the TCNJ Jazz Band performed its spring concert to an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.

TCNJ Jazz Band, a product of a course offered at the College, is comprised of approximately 20 members representing the sections of trumpet, trombone, saxophone and rhythm.

According to Dr. Gary Fienberg, who is in his sixth year as director of the Jazz Band, the group puts on an average of four performances throughout the academic year.

One member of the Jazz Band, junior mathematics and statistics major Mike Stein, explained the significance of performing in front of a live audience as a musician.

“Live performances are important because they give musicians the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities, and they also give audiences the chance to hear music being made,” Stein, who plays piano and vibes in the band, said.

Fienberg echoed Stein’s sentiments and added that jazz, as compared to other forms of music, is a particularly special live experience.

“In jazz, there’s a particular emphasis on spontaneity and originality,” Fienberg said. “The music really evolves along with things that are happening in that particular performance.

“Even without effort, jazz music changes from time to time,” he continued. “Every performance can be different than all previous performances.”

Junior music education major and band member Jeff Auriemma agreed with Fienberg’s sentiment.

“Musical improvisation is the cornerstone of jazz, so no piece ever sounds the same twice,” Auriemma, who plays trombone in the Jazz Band, said. “I love the fact that it doesn’t matter if I’ve been playing (a particular piece of jazz music) for my whole life. I know, and the listeners know, that what I play could only have happened that way at that particular time.”

Another aspect to the improvisation and spontaneity of jazz deals with the solo sections of the music, which were prominently featured in Friday’s performance.

According to Stein, solos make jazz even more unusual.

“My favorite piece is ‘Bag’s Groove’ because I get to improvise a solo on the vibes,” Stein said. “Jazz is special because it allows a lot of room for creativity from the individual musicians and the group as a whole.”

In Friday evening’s performance, the band played 12 pieces of music representing the evolution of jazz throughout the 20th century.

“I like to choose pieces that reflect the different styles and genres of jazz, including swing, Latin, jazz rock, bebop and big band,” Fienberg said. “All of these represent different historical eras, and in our concert we have pieces from the 1930s through the 1960s.”

Fienberg’s intent to include diversity in his selections is evident through the inclusion of pieces from jazz “legends” such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane, as well as the addition of some “unconventional” jazz music.

An example of this type of jazz is Bob Brookmeyer’s “Nasty Dance,” which Fienberg described as “deconstructive jazz that is an unusual piece of big band music.”

Stein said that events such as the Jazz Band concert are both enjoyable and enlightening for students at the College.

“People enjoy coming to (the Jazz Band concert) both to support their friends and to enjoy the music …. It offers a refreshing change of pace,” he said.