Photo Courtesy of Townsend School of Music
The Mercer Jazz Ensemble of the Townsend School of Music will be hosting a concert entitled “Begin the Beguine” Friday, April 22.
The concert will take place at Fickling Hall in the McCorkle Music Building from 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.
The ensemble’s performance will feature music from the big band swing jazz era of the 1930s to mid 1940s. Students and professors alike will be performing classic tunes from artists such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw and Bennie Moten.
“We often receive requests from our older patrons for swing tunes from the classic era of early jazz,” said Director of jazz studies Monty Cole. “I thought it would be fun to put together a program consisting entirely of this genre of music.”
Students have been practicing classic songs such as “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be,” “Begin the Beguine,” “String of Pearls” and “In a Mellow Tone,” among other hits.
“Because we are focusing on covering tunes that many of our audience will know by heart, any significant deviations from historical recordings will be obvious,” Cole said. “We are working very hard to present this music as close to the originals as possible.”
Graduate student Rolando Fernandez will performing several trumpet solos as part of the ensemble. The arrangement comprises challenging songs from Harry James and Alberto Pestalozza.
“‘Ciribiribin’ by Alberto Pestalozza is by far one of the most difficult jazz solo pieces I’ve ever had to perform,” Fernandez said. “There have been many times where I have had to walk away from the practice room because of the difficulty level of the solo.”
Despite the difficulty, Fernandez said he is ready and excited to take on the challenge.
In addition to the challenging nature of the music, the concert has also proven to be an educational experience. Cole noted that many of the students had never heard jazz from the big-band era, forcing them to broaden their skill set and bridge the historical gap between modern music and that of a previous time.
“It’s music their grandparents and great-grandparents know very well,” Cole said.
The concert is open to the public free of charge.