By Chris Barylick
For The Diamondback
The University of Maryland Jazz and Jazz Lab bands roared out of the gate in the Spring Big Band Showcase Part 1 concert Tuesday night at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.
Assembled by saxophone senior lecturer Tim Powell, the performance in Dekelboum Concert Hall marks the first of the spring showcases, with the second showcase on Wednesday night focusing on the Jazz Ensemble.
The 18-member Lab Band, directed by Powell, arrived to the applause of a warm, enthusiastic crowd, some of whom had brought flower bouquets for the performers. The evening kicked off to the sounds of Ellen Rowe’s “State Line Strut” and moved through a medley of older and more contemporary songs such as Bill Evans’ “Peri’s Scope” and Dean Sorenson’s “Rain Delay.”
Throughout the evening, a variety of solos not only drew warm applause from the several dozen attendees, but they also showed what the musicians were capable of.
The second segment of the evening brought out the University Jazz Band, which Powell directed alongside Corey Hewitt and Hart Guonjian-Pettit.
The performance featured incredible, driven brass and saxophone solos and excellent control of the mood and the music. The group was tight and on point but was still able to have fun and improvise.
Powell gave the credit to his students.
“The kids work really hard. This is all them, the students are putting [in] a lot of effort … they’ll reap the benefits which they sow when they get up there,” Powell said. “My part is easy. I just start and stop them.”
Powell also said these events typically draw a fair number of audience members from outside of the university community.
“I loved it very much … I come to a couple of them a couple of times a month,” Tom Colihan, a Berwyn Heights resident, said. Colihan also said he was planning to come to other university jazz events this year.
Other band members shared Powell’s excitement and love of the music, especially Guonjian-Pettit, a musical arts doctoral student and one of the coordinators of Tuesday night’s show.
“I like playing in a big band, and I’ve participated in this act of music performance enough to really not ever feel nervous when I go out on stage,” Guonjian-Pettit said. “If I ever do feel nervous, it’s just a bodily response of maybe some slight lack of preparation on my end or feeling like I care about the outcome of a performance.”
Audience members also felt the excitement during and after the showcase.
“It was a really good display of jazz and how jazz can be done through college,” Grace Rodeffer, a freshman family science major, said. “And with a large group of people, especially if they don’t all come from the same musical background.”
The evening wound down with the University Jazz Band’s rendition of Gene DePaul’s “Star Eyes” with a unique arrangement by Rich Hirsch that blended elements of the Star Trek theme song into it.
“I thought it was wonderful, so energetic,” Kay Angell, another Berwyn Heights attendee, said. “It was wonderful.”