Jazz director Glenn readies ‘most talented band . . . in 20 years’


Credit: Hong
Credit: Hong

Professor of Jazz David Glenn’s face lights up as he recounts which students of his he believes to have extraordinary musical talent.

“I’m sorry, but this going to be a long list of names. [junior] Ross Eustis on trumpet, [junior] Brian Barton on alto sax, [first-year] Jonas Myers, who does a fantastic job on piano, [sophomore] Sam Epstein on alto and bari sax, [junior] Reed Ferris on guitar, [senior] David Wallace on trombone, [first-year] Robby Seiger on drums: he has fantastic potential, [junior] Peter Gurche on violin and [first-year] Ethan Maier, who plays piano and accordion, is also very talented . . .”

The list went on for some time. The Whitman jazz program, rife with talent and ambition, is gearing up for a year full of concerts, events and visiting performers.

The Sampler Concert, which was held on Oct. 23 during family weekend and featured performances from many of Whitman’s different musical groups, was a “nice warm up,” according to Glenn.

“Both [jazz] groups played really well, but the concert really gets in the way,” he said. “We [had] to prepare eight songs for the ensemble concerts, which [were] a week from the sampler,” said Glenn, explaining that nonetheless the jazz groups only had time to perform two songs.

An integral part of the jazz program is bringing visiting bands and artists to campus. Glenn normally receives solicitations from bands over the year and selects ones that he knows to be of high quality both as musicians and teachers; visiting artists not only play a concert but also put on various workshops or clinics. Most of the solicitations come from the friends Glenn made when he played professionally in New York over a decade ago.

“Whitman is known as a college that has a good jazz program, so we receive a fair amount of offers from bands to play here.   The jazz program subsidizes bringing jazz to this area. There’s an even mix of East Coast bands that are touring the West Coast and bands from the Northwest that play here,” said Glenn.

For him, bringing professional jazz musicians to campus is incredibly important.

“I want my players to be around and interact with professionals. The players get to be around artists who have finished the process of college musical training, and have dedicated their lives to furthering their music . . . At the same time, students learn as much or more from their peers as they do from the professionals. There’s extreme value in both experiences,” said Glenn.

Looking ahead to the rest of the year, the jazz band has a tour to Seattle planned in April. The venues that they will play are undecided as of yet. The week before they leave for their tour, they will play their spring concerts. The next engagement for the jazz band is a gig at Merchant’s on Wednesday, Dec. 2, for Spaghetti Night. They will perform from 5:15 to 7:00 p.m.

Glenn is extremely enthusiastic and hopeful for his students and their progress this year.

“Jazz Ensemble #1 is the most talented band I’ve had in 20 years.   The #1 Ensemble concert [on Thursday, Nov. 5,] was one of the very best I’ve heard from any Whitman band. I’ve got eight to nine really good soloists and the people who aren’t soloists are really solid players. I’m lucky to have extremely talented musicians,” said Glenn.