The Rhea Miller Recital Hall welcomed the public on Friday, April 7 to see the SVSU Jazz Ensemble.
Over 80 people attended the concert, filling up a good portion of the recital hall.
The Jazz Ensemble, directed by Dr. Colin Wood, invited guest trombonist Dr. Austin Seybert to perform with them. Seybert held a masterclass earlier that day at 4 p.m.
In this class, he worked with students and talked about improvising.
The Jazz Combo played for him as well and received feedback to help them think about improv differently.
Trumpeter Felicia Snyder and percussionist Seth Bearden attended the masterclass.
They also performed in the concert.
“I really like Seybert’s insights on how to effectively improvise, and I think I learned a lot just from sitting in the audience,” Snyder said. “His analogies were really interesting and they were easy to follow.”
Bearden agreed that the masterclass was helpful to the students.
“I found his ideas about improvisation to be very interesting and insightful,” Bearden said. “He talked a lot about how it is all in the moment, as well as ways to be more engaged in your own improvisation. It’s always cool to hear about the different ways that musicians think about different subjects.”
The Jazz Ensemble had many rehearsals leading up to the concert.
“I feel like it went well,” Bearden said. “But it was definitely nerve-wracking the closer we got to the performance date though. Fixing up all the little things hare and there. It is always a blast though.”
Music department chair Dr. Norman Wika also played trombone with the ensemble.
Seybert requested to play “Lament” by American jazz trombonist, composer and arranger J.J. Johnson, to feature the trombone section.
Seybert worked with the Jazz Ensemble on Wednesday at their evening dress rehearsal in preparation for the concert.
“I think our rehearsals went really well,” Snyder said. “We were missing a few of the parts during our normal meeting times during the week [throughout] the semester, but the people we had filling in those parts are great musicians, so it was really nice once their parts were finally able to be added. Seybert also had some nice insights as to how we could improve our sound.”
Snyder’s favorite part included “Backrow Politics.”
“[My favorite was] either ‘Backrow Politics’ or ‘Midnight Voyage,’” Snyder said. “’Backrow Politics’ is very high on my list because it features the trumpet section and it’s genuinely a fun chart to play. I like ‘Midnight Voyage’ because its main melody and countermelody weave together and interact in cool ways that make my brain happy.”
Bearden enjoyed a different part of the show.
“[My favorite is] ‘Blues and the Abstract Truth,’” Bearden said. “This chart is incredibly interesting to listen to. It has lots of unique time signatures and grooves, keeps you listening closely, and has a different approach from your traditional blues feel. Having Seybert play for it as well [adds] a whole new level to it.”
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