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The Kenyon Jazz Ensemble mixes a jazz brew in concert

April 22, 2016 - 11:17 AM

GAMBIER - Start with a couple of standards, stir in some swing and funk, add a taste of Latin spice, and you have the ingredients for the annual Spring Concert by the Kenyon Jazz Ensemble.

The 20-piece Kenyon College band – led by Professor of Music Ted Buehrer – presents its academic-year finale at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 24, in Rosse Hall, 105 College Dr. The concert is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

“I try to provide a range of styles for the band to learn and interpret,” said Buehrer of his programs. The variety in selections, he said, also keeps the musicians engaged and challenged.

Vocalist and Kenyon junior Lily McBride of Gambier joins the ensemble to sing big-band standards ‘S Wonderful and Pennies from Heaven. Among other highlights, the band will play funky arrangements of Juan Tizol’s Caravan and Hank Levy’s Whiplash from the 2014 movie of the same name that won J.K. Simmons an Academy Award for best supporting actor.

Whiplash is a notoriously difficult song to learn because of its unusual time signature. Buehrer is, nevertheless, a fan of the film and included its title song in the repertoire at the suggestion of one of his students. “It’s playable, but done in 7/4 time instead of 4/4.”

Swing is represented by Billy Strayhorn’s After All and Sammy Nestico’s Basie Straight Ahead. The ensemble, which plays fall, winter and spring concerts on campus, typically improves as the year progresses. “You can really hear it this year,” Buehrer said.

He credits the progress to the band’s participation during spring break in a college festival in New Orleans. “A trip like that really brings a group together that being on campus does not. Having to play the same concert on multiple nights forced our members to learn the music and listen to each other’s parts.”

The ensemble includes students and community members.

To learn more about the concert, call 740-427-5197
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