Lander Jazz Ensemble Readies for Fall Show
Classics like Duke Ellington’s “Concerto for Cootie,” Miles Davis’s “Nardis” and Charles Mingus’s “Nostalgia in Times Square” will be among the offerings when the Lander University Jazz Ensemble takes the stage for its fall show.
The Tuesday, Nov. 27 performance, which starts at 8 p.m. in the Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center Auditorium, will also feature such standards as “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” by Manning Sherwin, and two Kurt Weill tunes, “September Song,” popularized by the Stan Kenton Orchestra, and “Mack the Knife,” made famous by Bobby Darin.
Newer compositions, such as “Mofongo,” by jazz saxophonist and composer Bob Mintzer; “Morocco,” from the Rippingtons’ album “Kilimanjaro”; “Low Rider,” by War; and the Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” are also in the mix.
“We’re playing a variety of styles from a variety of composers from different eras,” said associate professor of music Dr. Robert Gardiner, who directs the group.
It will be the fifth appearance with the jazz ensemble for trumpet player Tyler Will, a senior music major from Dayton, Ohio, and the featured performer on “Concerto for Cootie,” which Ellington wrote for his trumpet player, Cootie Williams, based on a melody that he heard Williams play.
“It’s an extremely fun though difficult piece,” Will said. “Cootie Williams has a gift to accentuate even the most simple phrases. The challenge for me will be to try to mimic his style and bring my own individuality to the piece.”
Will, who also plays with Lander’s Wind Ensemble, Trumpet Ensemble and Brass Quintet, began playing trumpet in sixth grade. He describes it as “a wonderful instrument. It’s extremely versatile; you can play highly virtuosic passages, beautiful lyrical passages and everything in between. It gives me an opportunity to express a full range of emotions and ideas and I love that. Plus it’s loud, so it can always be heard!”
Gardiner called Will, who hopes to study music theory and composition in graduate school, “an outstanding young musician. On his trumpet, he is able to produce the unusual timbres as well as the various articulations and colorful vibratos that help the Lander Jazz Ensemble reproduce the original 1940 recording of ‘Concerto for Cootie’ in an authentic manner.”
Gardiner said he is looking forward to the performance, which is free and open to the public. “I’m excited about it,” he said. “It’s going to be an enjoyable concert.”