WSU Jazz Ensemble plays upbeat show

The WSU Jazz Ensemble mixed upbeat jazz and Latin music for its Monday night performance put on by the Department of Performing Arts.

“This is one of the best bands I have ever had at WSU,” said Don Keipp, professor and director of the band at WSU. “For this concert, I wanted to pick fun charts that are fun to play for my band and entertaining for the audience to listen to.”

The Jazz Ensemble practices three days a week for an hour each day and features only student performers.

“That really did not give us a lot of time to practice,” said Bobby Gilgert, a senior and drummer for the Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo, a smaller group made up of just drums, piano, and bass, at WSU. Gilgert also anchors the rhythm section of the group, which consists of piano, bass and drums. ”We have to practice a lot on our own time as well.”

One of the selections performed was Horace Silver’s “Sister Sadie.” This selection was performed by the GRP Big Band, a group that performed in the late 1980s. The GRP was a full band that  played mostly well-known jazz pieces from the 1950s and 1960s, which were written by famous composers and musicians. According to Keipp, the arrangements of the song are perfect for his group.

“I really had a good time watching the band play and listening to the music,” said Rhett Burton, a junior majoring in technical sales at WSU. “They were a really talented band, and the music they played is the type of music that makes you want to get up and dance.”

Other selections performed by the Jazz Ensemble were Sammy Nestico’s “Basie” and “Straight Ahead,” Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas,” Bob Mintzer’s Mr. Fonebone,” Don Menza’s “Samba de Rollins,” Toshiko Akiyoshi’s “Tuning Up,” Denis Ci Blasio’s “Coconut Champagne,” and Gordon Goodwin’s “There’s the Rub.”

The WSU Jazz Combo was also featured on a few numbers.

“Most of the selections we played were more modern charts,” Gilgert said. “My favorite piece to play was “Sister Sadie,” because the tempo and the feel of the music was fun to play.”

Gilgert has played the drums for 11 years and this marks his third year playing the drums for the Jazz Ensemble at WSU.

“Nobody else in my family plays an instrument or really even listens to music much,” he said. “I have always loved to listen to music, and from that is where I got the eagerness to learn to play the drums.”

Gilbert agrees with Keipp as to the quality of the band.

“In my three years of playing the drums for the band at WSU, this is the best band I have had the opportunity to play with,” he said.

The concert also consisted of solo pieces from members in the band.

“I helped the students write some of the solo pieces, and others were improvised, meaning the student plays it different every time,” Keipp said.

Students and the public can attend a free Jazz Ensemble concert at the Union Station in Ogden on Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. The Jazz Ensemble will also be performing on Nov. 22  in the Val A. Browning Center Allred Theater at 7:30 p.m. The concert will consist of selections from the Big Band Era of the 1930s and 1940s and will be accompanied by vocalists.