Cooking Up the Musical Flavor of New Orleans

Vlad Voinich, Staff Reporter

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On Thursday, Apr. 25 the Whitman Jazz Ensemble performed “A Taste of New Orleans” in Chism Recital Hall. The performance was an ode to the music from this vibrant historical city.

First, Jazz Ensemble II performed four songs. The opening song was “Straight, No Chaser” by Thelonious Monk, featuring Ashlyn Quintus ‘19 on vocals. Then, the band performed a lively rendition of a lively “All Over Again” by Roy Hargrove, with Nate Miller on the trumpet. The third song of the show was “Angel Eyes” by Matt Dennis, also accompanied by Ashlyn Quintus on vocals. Jazz Ensemble II finished their part of the program with “Trane’s Strain” by Curtis Fuller.

“Playing jazz in the ensemble requires a very different set of skills from a classical orchestra, for example. You have to be creative in solving problems. The kind of jazz I like is when you can be in an ensemble and have a general idea of what you’re doing but other than that leave an open room to be creative and freedom to change things up and improvise,” said Finn Henell ’21, a trombone player in Jazz Ensemble I.

Henell performed a piece called “N’Awlins Medley” — composed by Antonio J. Garcia — with Liam Twomey ‘21, Lukas Koester ‘19, Cello Lockwood ‘19, Eva Sullivan ’21 on the trombone and Koby Haigerty ’21 on drums. This composition was unique due to the limited nature of instruments that complemented one another and created a great fusion of sounds.

All the pieces the band performed were in one way or another related to the city of New Orleans. Jazz Ensemble I covered “Moon Over Bourbon Street” by Sting with Dorothy Mukasa ’19 on vocals. Mukasa also performed an original piece, “Homage to the Village,” a heart-warming tribute to the people and places that have inspired and shaped her identity. 

“I really liked Dorothy’s piece because it was something that she composed herself, so the concert wasn’t just about these famous pieces but was also about the students themselves,” said Rina Cakrani ’20, an audience member. 

Each member of the ensemble identifies personally with the genre of jazz. Perth Sethapanichsakul ’20, who plays the baritone saxophone, comments on this genre of music.

“Jazz is a form of music that knows no boundaries. It’s creative and fun to play. Jazz is never really the same ever. Every time you play something new and different happens that surprises you,” said Sethapanichsakul. 

The playfulness of the genre was well demonstrated by the ensemble through the piece called “Fuster” by Allison Miller, which beautifully melded sounds from Sami Braman ’20 on the fiddle and Daniel Leong ’21 on the clarinet. 

The concert finished with “Nola’s Waltz” by Bob Borgstede, featuring a guitar solo by Cory Cogley ’19 who is a senior music and music theory major. Overall, the concert was a vibrant musical celebration of New Orlean’s major contribution to American jazz, and this genre of music in general.