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1  In-Class Critiques / Jazz Concert Critiques / Re: Cotton Club Review 2/25 on: April 23, 2010, 08:32:49 am
Musicians: Brandon Bryant, Trombone; Dan Matheson, Piano; Thomas McCormack, Sax; Dan McGovern, Drums; Don Wilner, Bass and Mike O'Donnell, Trumpet (used Harmon mute on Straighten Up and Fly Right).
2  In-Class Critiques / Jazz Concert Critiques / Re: Cotton Club Review 2/25 on: April 23, 2010, 08:16:47 am
Concert Critique #1
During Black History Month there was a presentation of The Cotton Club at McCarthy Theatre on Thursday February 25, 2010 at 7:00 PM. When I stepped inside I saw the lights were dimmed to recreate the mood of a nightclub setting. The Mistress of Ceremony Vanya Albury came out to welcome us to the Cotton Club and introduced the MDC-Cotton Club Ensemble who played a Prelude while she was talking.

The first song “It Don’t Mean a Thing” was performed by:  Kim Bankston, Cedrick Davis, Shirly Ferguson, Deborah Powell and Ali Stewart; said song was played by Duke Ellington’s Band which helped increase its popularity. The next two songs were written by Nat King Cole, “Straighten Up and Fly Right” interpreted by Ali Stewart; I noticed the Trumpeter used a mute to play this song. The following song titled “Unforgettable” was interpreted by Kim Bankston who happens to me a male vocalist/musician. The fourth song titled “Too Close for Comfort” was interpreted by a former professor named Deborah Powell, this song used to be part of Ella Fitzgerald’s repertoire. Kim Bankston was singing and then put down the microphone and walked over to the Xylophone where he began to play the melody of the fifth song titled “Satin Doll”; I was amazed by his speed and agility while the rhythm section provided the accompaniment. For the next song Cedrick Davis interpreted “Fly Me to the Moon” while Kim Bankston continued playing the Xylophone. You had to be there to see the level of instrument proficiency with which he played; he was “jamming” on that instrument.

Halfway through the Concert, Vanya Albury read a poem named “Harlem Night Song” while the six man band played in the background. “Fever” was one of my favorite songs of the night, it was interpreted by the five vocalist previously mentioned. The next two songs were not written by Nat King Cole but he did help make them more popular, “Smile” was interpreted by Deborah Powell and “Route 66” by Kim Bankston. I observed that Deborah Powell sang like she was feeling what she was singing which made her stand out from the other vocalists. I noticed Kim Bankston’s deep voice added depth and fullness to “It Don’t Mean a Thing” and “Fever”. The last two songs performed are titled “Do Nothing ‘Til You Hear from Me” interpreted by Ali Stewart and “God Bless the Child” by Deborah Powell. On the latter the Drummer used wire brushes and there was an improvised Alto Sax solo.

In conclusion, I liked the feel and mood in the Cotton Club, the crowd was snapping their fingers, tapping their feet, and at other times clapping to the music. The event was well organized and the acoustics and decorations were good which added to the overall experience. Going to this Concert wet my appetoye and has sparked greater interest in Jazz. I’m glad I took advantage of the opportunity to attend a free concert and that I got to expand my horizon by trying something new.
3  In-Class Critiques / Jazz Concert Critiques / Re: Community Jazz Band 4/7 on: April 22, 2010, 01:27:25 pm
Concert Critique #2
   On the evening of Wednesday April 7, 2010 I attended “The Community Jazz Ensemble which is comprised of both credit and noncredit students with a love of performing great music.” As I looked at the stage and saw it was full of musicians I thought the ensemble will deliver a big band sound with vocal and instrumental performances. I looked around and saw the following:
   Four Trombones, two Trumpets
   Two Electric Guitars, one Electric Bass
   One Piano, one Drummer, one Percussionist
   Three Tenor Saxophones, one Alto Saxophone
   Three Vocalists (two females and one male)
“Big bands were made up of ten or more musicians whose instruments fall into three categories: brass, saxophones and rhythm section.” As the band began to play the first song titled “Moanin’” by Bobby Timmins a young red-headed female stepped over to the microphone and started singing. When the Band got to the Bridge one of the trombonists stood up and began playing an improvised solo.
   The second song titled “When Sony Gets Blue” was interpreted by a young man, during which I noticed the drummer was more involved playing lots of hi hat and the snare drum with wire brush creating a softer sound. Midway through the song one of the Trumpeters stood up in the back and played a solo, then to my surprise both Electric Guitarists took a turn playing a solo after the trumpet solo; the rhythm section provided the accompaniment during all three solos.
The “Way You Look Tonight” was a performed as a duet by the two vocalists previously mentioned. Things got more interesting on the fourth song titled “No More Blues”. The Director Jim Broderick left his place as Conductor and jumped in the Frontline to play some improvised Flugelhorn solos with “swing feeling”. I observed that another young female vocalist approached the microphone and began singing the lyrics in Portuguese telling me it's Bossa Nova. One of the Electric Guitarists played the songs’ melody during his solo and I saw two horn men in the Frontline stand up and walk over to the Percussion section (left side of the stage) to play percussion instruments this accented small sounds in the background adding color to the song.  The fifth and final song is titled “Grand Slam” by Don Shamber, the Brass section in this song is more involved giving it a brassy sound including a Trumpet solo and later a Trombone solo; the Electric Bass plays a walking bass line and the Drummer is very involved.
   In conclusion, a couple of the songs were played in A-A-B-A form and a couple in 12 bar blues form. I’m glad I was able to the hear The Community Jazz Ensemble; I enjoyed a free thirty minute Concert in the company of my fellow students. I was able to listen to the music and know what I was listening to, I could recall the concepts and terminology I've learned in this course. It’s a good feeling, a feeling of satisfaction to know that you’re learning and developing musical listening skills.
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