Duquesne Jazz performers put on impressive show

Jessica Fortunato | Staff Writer
Mary Pappert School of Music senior Bill McDonald plays the bass.

Jessica Fortunato | Staff Writer

11/20/19

On Sunday, Nov. 17, the Duquesne Jazz ensembles performed a powerful, yet intimate concert featuring Max Jazz recording artist David Budway.

The Jazz Workshop and the Jazz Ensemble performed several individual pieces, with Budway serving as a guest soloist for the final scores. The concert showcased the talent of many jazz musicians at Duquesne, while incorporating professors and professionals as well.

The Jazz Workshop’s first piece, “Easy Money,” made good use of the muted trumpet, featuring soloists Alyssa Bozym and Josh Branker. Conductor Jeff Bush performed a melodious trombone solo, transitioning the group into an energized forte that filled the room.

“A Child is Born” featured Mila Shadel on the guitar instead of the originally written piano introduction. Her relaxed melody and use of dissonance made for a hauntingly beautiful interpretation. This was followed by a brush of the drums, and a vigorous note on the piano played by Bush, to end the song.

The Jazz Ensemble premiered student piano player Alex Luketich’s composition “When I Awoke.” The ensemble’s nicely blended portrayal gave the piece a regal, cloud-like sound. The countermelody between the saxophone section and guitar really breathed life into Luketich’s work, but the lower brass could have demonstrated a better tone.

“Mel” started somber and built into a crescendo, consistently layering instruments. Spencer McNeil’s tenor saxophone solo was a highlight of this piece. You could hear the passion in the improvisation; the music possessed him.

Roy Mitchel, a graduate student, composed a piece in the program. “Eleventh Heaven” started with a bang, and incorporated yelling “Huh!” in the piece’s middle. Luketich made an amazingly quick switch from the piano to the bongos, and then back again. The whole song was performed with ease, even though it warranted dedication.

David Budway was reunited with the stage, playing piano alongside the Jazz Ensemble for the song “Tones for Joan’s Bones.” Budway used his whole body when playing, and he showed the audience that he was there for a reason.

Gaining control of the microphone, Budway sprung an impromptu piece that personally impacted him, “Jazz Piano Man.” Budway entertained the audience with charismatic lyrics about being a background jazz pianist and spewed skillful riffs on the piano, initiating the conclusion of the night.

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