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Jazz ensembles to play ‘high-level’ charts at upcoming performance

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Andrea Hammack

Staff Writer

The Troy band jazz ensembles, both I and II, have been putting in hard work preparing for their upcoming concert later this month.

Jazz I is under the direction of Dave Camwell, an associate professor of music, while Jazz II, a new group this year, is under Jason Sulliman, an assistant professor of music.

Patrick Ferguson, a senior music education major from Crestview, Florida, has enjoyed the experience of working with Camwell over the last four years.

“Dr. Camwell has been an awesome jazz band director,” Ferguson said. “He is a pool of knowledge and is willing to work with just about anyone and help them get better.”

The groups typically have about six to seven weeks to prepare all of their music to concert level. That usually means two rehearsals a week incorporated with individual practices and sectionals.

Each ensemble includes about 20 students.

As the director, Camwell mentioned that picking the charts and music to play was one of the most important aspects of his job.

“I need to balance a variety of styles, difficulties, soloist opportunities and audience accessibility, all while ensuring the band enjoys the music but is challenged by it,” Camwell said. “The goal is to make the students stronger by exposing them to quality repertoire that exposes them to the great music of the past and the music of today.”

Ben Huston, a senior music education major from Niceville, Florida, said jazz has always held a special place in his heart.

“My favorite part of being in jazz band is the opportunity to make such a wide variety of music,” Huston said. “It’s so easy to get lost in the music and hear new things every time you listen to it.”

The program will involve not only traditional jazz selections but also some contemporary pieces.

“For this upcoming concert, I’d say I’m most looking forward to the two tunes by composer/saxophonist Bob Mintzer, entitled ‘Latin Dance and GoGo,’” Camwell said. “They are fabulous tunes that are fun, accessible and really challenging for the band.

“The trick is to make them sound easy.”

Ferguson, who plays trombone in the ensemble, said his favorite piece to play was “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” as performed by Tommy Dorsey.

“The trombone solo is very difficult but needs to be played as though it is effortless, easy and smooth,” Ferguson said. “It is a great challenge.”

This program features several student soloists, including Chase McCoy, Landon Grigsby, Ernest Grimes, Patrick Ferguson and more.

Both Huston and Ferguson encourage those interested in jazz band to join.

“Everyone should always take new chances and discover new possibilities within themselves,” Huston said. “It betters you not only as a musician but as a person, too.”

Camwell encourages everyone to come out to the concert and listen to what they have been working on.

“My favorite part of each year are the concerts,” Camwell said. “It’s where our hard work in the rehearsals pays off.”

Camwell said his job is to make the members’ jazz experience meaningful, fun, memorable and educational. He hopes to also affect the audience in a similar way.

“I’d love them to experience and appreciate the wide range of the jazz we play,” Camwell said. “An audience can expect everything from swing to Latin, funk to R and B.

“Jazz is an amazingly flexible music with truly something for everyone.”

The first concert of the season will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 26, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Claudia Crosby Theater. It will start with Jazz II’s performance and then Jazz I will play, featuring guest artists from the Dominican Jazz Project.

“These musicians are absolutely world-class, and they will sit in with the band, guesting on four tunes,” Camwell said. “They are sensational and will make for a memorable concert.”

There will be three concerts per semester this year, which is one more per semester than last year.

“The music we play is typically high-energy, and our concerts are never boring,” Camwell said. “It will be a concert of excellent and exciting music performed at a very high level.”