Tonight, students and faculty of VCU Music’s jazz studies program will perform at the department’s 11th-annual Fall Jazz Festival at the Singleton Center for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m.
The concert, established in 2001 to commemorate the pledge of $2 million to the jazz studies program at VCU, features students, faculty and guest artists in three sets: Jazz Orchestra I, Jazz Orchestra II and the VCU Faculty Jazz Septet.
This year’s festival features three guest trumpeters: John D’earth, the director of jazz at the University of Virginia; Graham Breedlove, member of the Army Blues; and Taylor Barnett, a VCU alumnus who is pursuing his doctorate at James Madison University.
The first ensemble to perform will be the Jazz Orchestra II, or as it is commonly called “JO2,” led by adjunct professor Bryan Hooten.
This ensemble is comprised mostly of younger, less-experienced players but has a big band style that Hooten hopes prepares the students for real world performing in any style.
“As jazz evolves and as time goes on, more and more styles start to get gobbled up by jazz,” Hooten said, and his sentiment shows in his song selection.
The Jazz Orchestra II will be playing big band pieces by Count Basie, Thad Jones, a modern-samba arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan,” and even a composition written by guest artist Graham Breedlove.
The Jazz Orchestra I is led by the director of the jazz studies program Antonio Garcia.
“With jazz being the spontaneous nature of improvisation, it’s just like a conversation around a table,” he said.
The final set is performed by the VCU Faculty Jazz Septet. The repertoire for this group “tends to be a little more modern,” said Garcia, who plays trombone in the ensemble.
While the music of other ensembles is picked by the director, the VCU Jazz Faculty Septet features a range of pieces from guest artists or recently produced pieces.
For more information on VCU Music’s Jazz Studies program, visit http://www.vcu.edu/arts/music/dept/study/jazz/index.html
Photos by Amber-Lynn Taber