Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Concert Experience- NEC Jazz Lab

This past week I had the pleasure to see many free jazz concerts at the New England Conservatory's Jazz Lab, a one-week intensive program for students ages 14 - 18. I went to Jazz Lab last year, and had a lot of fun, so these concerts were a great way to see some of my friends and listen to great music! I went to three of the five free concerts at Jazz Lab.

A Concert Experience- NEC Jazz Lab

o Monday, June 23rd - Dave Holland solo plus Dave Holland-Dominique Eade duo - 8 pm Jordan Hall

Meeting Dave Holland after the concert! 
Dave Holland is a Grammy award winning bassist, was a member of Miles Davis's group in the late 60s and 70s, has been a sideman with many top jazz musicians like Herbie Hancock, and has led a successful career as a leader with many groups such as "Prism".   

Dave Holland quoted Miles Davis and said "I'll play it first and tell you what it is later", and started with a series of improvisations to see where it would take him. This was especially enjoyable, because Holland would go from thought to thought, even quoting jazz standards such as "Someone to Watch Over Me". Holland then moved on to play Charles Mingus's song, "Goodbye Porkpie Hat", where he made the bass sing, playing the blues with special techniques to make it sound like multiple instruments were playing a sort of call and response. 

Watch Dave Holland play solo bass on "Goodbye Porkpie Hat":

Holland then played his own composition, "Jumping In", with fast runs, and glissandos. Dominique Eade joined him for the next half of the concert, starting with a heartfelt rendition of "Equality", a tribute to the late Maya Angelou set to music. Eade impressed the audience with her impeccable diction, pure tone, and impressive range. Her scat solos were fresh, and mimicked a horn, while Holland would compliment her style by responding to her unique phrases on his bass.

Holland and Eade then performed a fresh interpretation of the standard, "Yesterdays", and original "For the Dancer", and the standard "Daydream", which conjured a sense of unity between Eade's soaring voice and Holland's soaring bass solos. Holland and Eade ended the concert with a tribute to the late Don Cherry with "Remembrance", with stunning rhythmic intensity and power from both of them. It was truly a treat to watch these two greats perform- they seemed completely in sync, and both emanated a true love for every note and gesture within the musical conversation. 

o Tuesday, June 24th - Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra - 8 pm Brown Hall

The Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra (AIJO) is a big band based in Boston that performs originals and arrangements of Ayn Inserto, who is highly influenced by Bob Brookmeyer, Maria Schneider and Jim McNeely. Inserto thrives to make her music swing with a modern twist, producing a thrilling performance for the audience. 

Watch the Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra play "Clairvoyance":

The Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra started with the songs "Eshel Sketch" and an arrangement of the Joe Henderson song "Recorda Me". The orchestra produced a full, vibrant sound, with strong overlapping melodies propelled forward by energetic solos.

The orchestra then continued with a lovely waltz, "Dear John" and a haunting ballad for Steve Lacy, "Laced with Love". It was enjoyable to hear the cascading mix of layering melodies and space, which created a waterfall effect. The combination of smooth melodies and sharp rhythmic hits created a sort of hypnotic state for the audience.

Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra

Next, the orchestra performed "Vinifera" and "Hey, Open Up!", both characterized by a dark edgy ensemble sound as well as flying solos that provided contrast from the ensemble sections. The last song, "Subo", was especially enjoyable for its fresh, latin inspired rhythms and broad solo sections. The song made the audience want to dance, and Inserto even started dancing while conducting! It is always inspirational to see a modern take on the big band sound, and Inserto's ensemble had a great mix between strong section parts and wonderful individual solos.

o Wednesday, June 25th - The Ken Schaphorst Ensemble - 8 pm Jordan Hall

Ken Schaphorst is a composer, performer, and educator currently chairing the Jazz Studies department at the New England Conservatory. The Ken Schaphorst Ensemble plays original songs by Schaphorst, and featured ten musicians, including Schaphorst on flugelhorn. 

The ensemble started with "When the Moon Jumps" and "Checkered Blues". These songs set the tone for the concert, creating a cohesive sound between all the members of the ensemble. The audience couldn't help but notice the camaraderie between the musicians, which definitely helped create an enthralling experience. 

Ken Schaphorst Ensemble

Next, the ensemble continued with "Take Back the Country", written and inspired by the late Bob Brookmeyer, and "North Mountain". Schaphorst noted "Take Back the Country"was by no means a political piece, although Brookmeyer himself was quite political.

The next songs included "Mbira", inspired by a Southern African thumb piano, and "Bats", inspired by the motion of bats. These two songs were especially enjoyable because the amount of energizing solos by each member of the ensemble. Each soloist seemed to give energy and inspiration to the next, creating a rise and fall effect to the music. 

Concluding the concert was a tribute to the late Horace Silver, "Silver Serenade". Schaphorst explained how important Silver's influence was to his compositional growth, claiming he can pinpoint exact places in his music that came directly from analyzing Silver's own music.

Listen to "Silver Serenade":

Final Thoughts: 
A week full of concerts is always a treat, especially when every concert is a unique experience.

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