Review: Jazz Night energizes crowd


The Newtonite

by Jessica Tharaud
Delightful students participating in this year’s Jazz Night claimed the auditorium stage for an intoxicating night featuring the five musical groups making up this school’s jazz program. Most of the songs were learned by ear unaided by sheet music with the students’ own spin, as music teacher Richard Labedz explained before the concert.
Performing in front of a calming, blue backdrop reminiscent of clear blue sky with just the faintest hints of clouds, the novice Jazz Ensemble One admirably overcame its visible nervousness to execute the first two songs of the night, “Doxy,” composed by Sonny Rollins and popularized by Miles Davis, and “Watermelon Man,” written by Herbie Hancock. Though shaky at the beginning, Jazz Ensemble One regained its composure as it grew increasingly comfortable onstage, making for a pleasant set of songs.

Photo by Josh Shub-Seltzer
Photo by Josh Shub-Seltzer.

Next, Jazz Workshop took the stage for three songs, including a bright and entertaining rendition of Louis Armstrong’s jazz standard, “All of Me.” Despite complicated parts that varied greatly, the musicians performed beautifully and roused the crowd of clear jazz lovers.
In one of the night’s fantastic highlights, the Advanced Jazz Improvisation group played two creative, original pieces that utilized each of the members’ strengths in an impressive give and take. Engaging and inventive, the pieces meshed standard jazz with a remarkable sound. Junior Sam Eastman on electric guitar and junior Paul Goldfinger on drums brought a rock feel to the jazz music and were clear standouts with their performances.
The bluesy tones of Tiger Bebop, a vocal jazz group, provided a pleasant addition to the instrumental jazz music of the rest of the groups. Senior Peter Diamond and junior Elise Hausman perfectly complemented the whimsical song “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie,” written by Vaughn Horton, Denver Darling, and Milt Gabler with their dynamic solos that elicited roaring approval from the audience. A jazz arrangement of the famous Etta James song “At Last” ended the set, invigorated by a sweet solo by senior Nellie Rogers.
Photo by Josh Shub-Seltzer.
Photo by Josh Shub-Seltzer.

Jazz Ensemble Two provided the perfect finale of the night,  invigorating the audience with a set of three songs: Mark Taylor’s “Not Yet Over the Hill,” “Not Get Over the Hill,” composed by Buck Clayon, and a unique arrangement of “Pick Up the Pieces.” The students’ harmonies meshed together brilliantly, displaying a strong, vibrant sound played with great feeling. Jazz Ensemble Two was incredible to witness, and a great ending to an enjoyable night.