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April is Jazz Month

April 24, 2007   

Apparently April is Jazz Month at Hamilton College. I usually attend every jazz concert that the College offers, but, in the past few weeks, I just have not been able to see every one. There has been at least one concert a week and sometimes two. By the end of the month, I will have attended a minimum of three, but perhaps four or five depending on how things go.

The first concert was a small affair held in Café Opus. For those of you unfamiliar with this location, Café Opus is a small coffee shop/lounge area. Many students congregate at Opus to study, eat or sleep on the myriad couches and easy chairs scattered about. On the night in question, though, the seating area was reconfigured to accommodate the Hamilton Jazz Combo’s performance. The Combo features four musicians: a bassist (my good friend, Grant Zubritsky), a guitarist, a drummer and a pianist. Concerts are always more fun when you know someone who is playing. There was also a special appearance by the Hamilton Jazz Archivist, Monk Rowe, on saxophone.

I really loved the concert. The quartet played a variety of songs, ranging from Miles Davis to original compositions by the musicians themselves. Grant introduced the songs from the mic and gave the audience some background information on what they were playing. It was a fairly intimate setting, one that I find quite conducive to listening to jazz.

The other concert I attended featured Ravi Coltrane (John Coltrane’s son) and his quartet. They didn’t play in Café Opus (which would struggle to seat more than 50). Instead, Ravi and Co. played in Wellin Hall, Hamilton’s major performance space, which is actually located right next to Café Opus. Several hundred people attended the concert. The quartet performed all original songs composed by Coltrane. They played two sets, each about an hour, with a short intermission in between. Their playing was very tight and sounded great. While I prefer styles of jazz from the first half of the last century, I did find myself getting into a few of their songs.

I plan on going to see the Hamilton Big Band play tomorrow night. They will also be performing in Wellin, and I expect them to put on quite a show. I have a few senior friends in the ensemble, so this will be my last chance to hear them play. I am really looking forward to it.