Jazz ensemble performs with major artist

Cowles Auditorium was packed with people of all ages on Saturday night, to hear jazz music performed by a renowned jazz artist and Whitworth University’s jazz ensemble for their annual fall concert.

Dan Keberle, a professor of music and the director of jazz studies at Whitworth, said this event has been going on for 24 years so far, bringing in artists who have helped shape jazz music into what it is today.

“We bring in nationally known, grammy-winning and grammy-nominated jazz artists,” he said. “[Students] know this will be part of their experience when they come here — that they will get to work closely for a couple of days with a major jazz artist.”This year’s artist was Kenny Barron, who is recognized internationally as a master of jazz performance and composition. He has been called “one of the top jazz pianists in the world” by the Los Angeles Times and “the most lyrical piano player of our time” by Jazz Weekly.Barron has played with other jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Freddie Hubbard and Yusef Lateef and is a nine-time grammy nominee, and has been recognized for his outstanding work with jazz music.

Sophomore Caleb Brown, who plays tenor saxophone, said he is most excited to have the opportunity to work closely with Barron.

“The fall guest artist concerts are an amazing experience,” he said. “Playing with my heroes is a dream come true.”

Sophomore Kyle Moreen, who plays lead alto saxophone in the jazz band, agreed.

“It’s so great to get to play with a master like [Barron] is,” Moreen said. “Anytime you meet someone who knows what they’re doing is great. Just playing with anyone who is better makes you better.”

The concert started out with the jazz ensemble playing songs like “Again and Again” by Benny Carter and an arrangement of “I Thought About You”.

After a short intermission, the ensemble came back on stage to perform again, and this time Barron also appeared at the piano. He collaborated with the ensemble on a number of songs. Most of the songs involved piano solos, which showcased his expertise.

The band also took a few breaks from playing to listen to Barron perform some songs by himself during the concert. Keberle said this was important.

“[Barron] could probably play 5,000 songs, 5,000 different ways,” Keberle said. “I don’t want the band playing all the time. We want to be able to listen to the subtleties of the piano.”

Before the concert, Moreen said he was most excited to hear Barron performing the song “Never Enough”.

“It extensively features the piano in the beginning, and the piano has a really long solo,” he said. “It’s going to be great to hear what he does with that.”

“Never Enough” was written by Virginia Mayhew, with whom Barron had played this song originally. This version of “Never Enough” was arranged by Keberle.

Keberle said this concert has been in the making for more than a year.

“We tried to get Kenny to come out here many times; it’s been a long road,” Keberle said. “A lot of jazz artists have tours in October and November, so it’s hard sometimes.”

Brown said the band has put a lot of work into the concert.

“We have rehearsals three times a week, and this whole week leading up to the concert we’ve had rehearsals every night,” he said. “I spend about 10 to 20 hours a week practicing on my own.”

Keberle said that the jazz ensemble will not have much happening until around February, when the ensemble is going to Chicago for the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival.

“[It’s] the oldest collegiate jazz festival,” he said. “We’re going to travel over there and play, and hear a lot of jazz from eastern and western universities that we don’t usually get to hear.”

Meghan Dellinger Staff Writer

mdellinger15@my.whitworth.edu