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Sunday, Dec. 3
The Indiana Daily Student

arts jacobs school of music

Jacobs School of Music presents IU Jazz Ensemble concert

To IU senior Connor Carrol, “Jazz is freedom,”quoting Duke Ellington.

Carrol is a saxophonist in Brent Wallarab’s IU Jazz Ensemble, which played at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater for the first time Monday. Wallarab’s IU Jazz Ensemble is the top ensemble out of the three jazz orchestras at the Jacobs School of Music. It is made up of undergraduate and graduate students.

The ensemble moved from the Musical Arts Center to share their music with a broader audience and experience a smaller performing space.

“The Buskirk-Chumley is a much better playing environment than the musical arc for the size that we are,” Carrol said.

The acoustics were heard much better for a small group, he said.

The show featured exclusively student compositions, written in contemporary jazz style. Instead of a traditional jazz combo, it’s a “big band,” because it has four trumpets, four trombones and five saxophones.

“The group plays students compositions from time to time, but this is the first time they’ve done a concert that is all student compositions,” said Tom Walsh, a jazz studies professor at the Jacobs School. The ensemble played nine pieces, which varied in tempo and mood.

Wallarab, who is the conductor, introduced each piece and its composer, mentioning awards and honors they had received.

The instruments gleamed in the dim light of the stage as the 18 members of the ensemble played their instruments together in a fluid motion. Whether it was the dramatic echo of the piano or the sultry tone of the saxophone, the solos resulted in an eruption of applause.

Midway through the show, doctoral student Benjamin Taylor composed and conducted the song “Baby Jack’s Blues,” giving a nod to the era of swing. He said that conducting a jazz band isn’t as stressful as conducting other bands.

“Conducting a jazz big band is different from other bands because you’re not really conducting — you’re just having the most fun out of everybody,” Taylor said.
He said it’s energizing to be in the front of all the players.

“You’re right in front of the band,” Taylor said. “It’s like this wall of sound in front of you. It seemed like the audience really responded.”

Audience member Joan Oclett said she loved Taylor’s piece.

Oclett is a fan of jazz and frequents IU Jazz Ensemble performances.
“I like the way they showcase the different kids,” she said. “As they let the individual kids have their special parts, I really like it when they have that opportunity.”
The audience responded most to lively songs.

“The up-tempo songs changed the atmosphere of the room,” audience member Chelsea Howard said.

Writing the music seemed to come naturally to the members. However, trumpet player Josiah Lamb said writing all the parts could take a long time.

He said that the first rehearsal after all of the writing is gratifying.
“It’s nice when it all comes together,” Lamb said.

Aaron Sigmund, another member of the ensemble, said it took them about a month to compose all of the songs played Monday.

“The composers brought in parts over time, and then we worked in rehearsal and told them what worked and what didn’t,” Sigmund said.

Master’s student Aaron Bannerman composed the last song of the set.
“I kind of wanted something that had a big bang,” Bannerman said.

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