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The Blue & Gray Press | February 17, 2018

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Jazz Excites Underground

By HOPE RACINE

On Wednesday, Oct. 3, members of the University of Mary Washington Jazz Ensemble serenaded students with classic Latin Jazz pieces in the Underground.
The Ensemble played selected pieces from famous Latin artists, such as Tito Puente, Jobim and Santana. The majority of songs played were instrumental pieces, though on a few selections, sophomore and music major Judi Jackson stepped in to provide vocals. Jackson’s voice was highlighted on several songs, such as “Manha de Carnaval,” or “A Day in the Life of a Fool,” which was made famous by Frank Sinatra.
Directed by experienced musician Doug Gately, the Jazz Ensemble combines a traditional orchestra sound with guitars and electric basses.
According to the UMW website, “The UMW Jazz Ensemble performs contemporary jazz arrangements as well as standard big band literature. Members receive instruction in performance techniques, jazz history, theory, improvisation, and an analysis of elements of style and interpretation of music found within the jazz idiom.”
Throughout the evening, the Ensemble highlighted various members of their group, such as seniors Jim Ford on trumpet and John White on guitar. They also worked to engage the audience in the performance.
“This isn’t a sitting down song, this is a dancing song,” Jackson announced to the students. “So, if you like dancing, find someone else who likes to dance, and drag her up here!”
During one number, two of the flutists descended upon the crowd and started a mambo line around the Underground.
Gately used interludes between songs to educate the audience about Latin music’s influence on Jazz. Many of the songs the group performed were initially Latin compositions that were later made famous by white musicians, such as Frank Sinatra, and modern artists, like Santana.
The Underground was packed throughout the performance, and not just because of the dinner rush. Many students came specifically to see the Jazz Ensemble play and stayed for the entirety of the performance.
Freshman David Geraghty, who plays clarinet in the Mary Washington orchestra, hopes to join the Jazz Ensemble in the future.
“I saw their concert earlier in the year, and I really liked them,” said Geraghty.
While the Ensemble puts on an official concert on campus each year, their music reaches beyond campus. Many non-students come to watch when they perform off-campus, such as Jisang Lee, a local high school student who came on Wednesday to watch his music teacher, Gary Carper, perform in the Underground.
“Mr. Carper’s a great teacher, and I like seeing him play. Also, I get the chance to listen to good music and hang out on campus,” Lee said.
Starting the night with “Spain,” by Chick Corea, and ending it with “Oye Como Va,” by Santana, the Jazz Ensemble entertained and impressed students from the first note to the last.