Jazz festival pays respect to alumnus

This past weekend in the Pottle Music Building Auditorium, the annual Bill Evans Jazz Festival came to a close with three free performances featuring Grammy award winning composer, arranger and jazz pianist, Bill Cunliffe.

The festival is held every spring to pay homage to Evans, who graduated Southeastern in 1950. Winner of seven Grammy Awards, Evans was one of the most influential jazz pianists of his generation.

Each year, a contemporary pianist is brought in to work with Southeastern’s music students in addition to playing alongside them in several performances throughout the festival.

The first of these closing concerts showcased Cunliffe in a trio setting with professional musicians Jesse Boyd and drummer, Troy Davis. Boyd is a faculty member at Loyola University. Both he and Davis are professional musicians as well. Highlights from this performance included a jazz version of, “All is Full of Love,” by Bjork, in which the drums and bass died out towards the end of each phrase, letting the wash of the cymbals accompany the piano until they entered again.

“I liked the originality,” said senior music education major, Durand Jones. “He molded it into a jazz chart, which helps to show that this [jazz] music is universal.”

Cunliffe and The Southeastern Jazz Combos gave the second concert of this closing series on Friday, April 15, at 4:00 p.m. Two combos, each playing their own set lists, were able to musically interact with the seasoned pianist, Cunliffe. A jazz combo typically includes a rhythm section of drums, bass, piano and guitar that supports a small section of wind players on anything from trumpet, trombone, clarinet, various saxophones or flute.

Later that same evening, The Southeastern Jazz Ensemble II, featuring Cunliffe, performed the series closer at 7:30p.m.

“I thought it was a really good concert,” said senior music education major, Thomas Braud. “They played a good variety of music and it was true to what jazz is all about.”