Jazz Ensemble raises the bar at Columbia

Smooth were the night sounds at Columbia Theatre as the Jazz Ensemble One performed various pieces from the distinct jazz style.

The ensemble performed inside the Senator John J. Hainkel Performance Hall for guests and family. The performance began at 7:30 p.m. with applause as the musicians, led by Director of Bands Dr. Glen J. Hemberger, filed onto the stage.

“Jazz Ensemble One continues to prove that Southeastern’s music students are capable of performing a wide variety of music, in a wide variety of styles, and putting together a quality concert in a short amount of rehearsal time,” said Hemberger. “The challenge of ‘raising the bar’ in its level and quality of performance is a major goal for JE1, and these student musicians continue to impress me with their dedication and talent.”

Throughout the night’s performances, many musicians were able to show their talents with a solo. Hemberger was impressed with the level of skill each performer showed.

“Jazz musicians make the study and mastery of jazz soloing a life-long venture,” said Hemberger. “There is so much to learn, from traditional and contemporary styles, modes and scales and diversity of solo ideas that even the most seasoned jazz musicians are constantly learning. Our students are actively learning new techniques and challenging themselves to apply that knowledge to their own jazz soloing. I am particularly pleased with the innovative and solid soloing demonstrated by tenor saxophonist Jonathan Lyons, who has a tremendous technique, and an obvious interest in jazz performance.”

Another soloist was Angelisa Allen on the saxophone, a junior music education major. However, her solo in the last piece, “Bourbon Street Parade,” did not require an instrument, but her voice.

“Tonights performance was very good, very gutsy, in your face,” said Allen. “But at the same time, there was a lot of diversity in the music, and I was very happy with all of the songs we played.  I have been singing all of my life, but only recently have I been doing jazz music and singing with some of the other musicians in the band.”

With New Orleans being the historical starting point for jazz, the genre has been affiliated with the South since its birth. Hemberger ties this into how he wants the musicians to learn and grow as performers.

“Jazz is such a popular genre in Louisiana, as much or more than anywhere in the country, primarily because of its deep roots in New Orleans,” said Hemberger. “Jazz Ensemble One hopes to program music of a variety of styles to expose our musicians and audience to the wide variety of music written for the Big Band idiom, and stand as Southeastern’s jazz leader. It is a pleasure working with these talented and dedicated musicians as we educate our future jazz performers and jazz educators, and strive to entertain our audience.”

For more information about upcoming events at the Columbia Theatre, visit their website at columbiatheatre.org.