Jazz ensemble to perform last concert this semester

The Baylor Jazz Ensemble holds its 11th annual swing concert in this Sept. 17, 2017 file photo at the Jones Concert Hall in the Glennis McCrary Music Building. The ensemble will perform its final free concert of the fall 2019 semester at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the McCrary Music Building. Lariat File Photo.

By KJ Burkley | Contributor

The Baylor Jazz Ensemble will perform its final concert this semester at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the McCrary Music Building. The concert is free of charge.

The jazz ensemble will perform a wide selection of styled jazz. Selections featured in the program include “Cherry Juice” composed by Thad Jones, “Housewife from New Jersey” by Tim Hagans and “Gator Tail” by Greg Yasinitsky.

The show will also feature Arlington senior and guest vocalist Jillian Moore in the arrangement “I Love Being Here with You” by Peggy Lee and Bill Schluger.

Alex Parker, senior lecturer and director of the Wayne Fisher Jazz Program, said performing a variety of music gives both jazz band members and the audience something to relate to in the performance.

“Jazz is a big umbrella and has a lot of different styles to it,” said Parker. “So what I try to do is have a variety of music for two reasons. One, we want to play something that everybody in the audience will relate to. The other reason is that it’s my job to make sure students know how to play different styles so that they learn how to play them before they leave Baylor.”

Parker, who teaches in the School of Music at Baylor, said this year’s jazz ensemble is a unique group because of the number of seniors in the band. Parker said the chemistry of the band reaches a new level because of the trust and musicianship they have built overtime.

“This is really special group — over half the band are seniors,” Parker said. “They have been in both jazz ensembles, combos and taken all the classes. They are very dedicated musicians even though no one in the ensemble is a jazz major. They don’t have to take any of my classes for their degree. They do it because they love it. That makes my job easy because they want to be there and learn about the language, the music and they just love doing it.”

Although the senior members of the ensemble currently attend Baylor, many are looking to invest in another university for graduate school. Parker said it’s better for musicians to experience music and make more connections elsewhere because the same professors teach them multiple times throughout their undergraduate studies.

However, the jazz department in the School of Music attracts graduate students to pursue higher education in jazz, as well as performance in the ensemble. Omaha, Neb., graduate student Logan Banister said it was his connection with a professor of his at Oklahoma Christian University that inspired him to come study at Baylor.

“My undergraduate professor did his master’s here at Baylor,” Banister said. “So, I followed too, and it turned out to be a really great fit. There are many supportive people that play classical and jazz saxophone, which I like.”

As the last concert of the semester approaches, Parker said he wants every performer to go and have fun with this performance because it is a true gift to perform with each other and for others.

“We just want to have fun,” Parker said. “We’ve put in all the hard work up to this point, and I tell them all the time that we are lucky that everybody else goes to work and we get to go play every day. Hopefully all the good ensemble techniques happen so we can kick back, have fun and play for whoever walks in the door to hear us.”