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Thursday, November 30, 2023


Moores Opera House hosts night of jazz

The Moores School of Music Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Orchestra took the stage on Tuesday night in the Moores Opera House. The Jazz Ensemble performed tunes by the likes of Thad Jones, Dan Cavanaugh, Rob Vuono Jr.,

Moores School of Music Jazz Ensemble prepares for a performance with assistant director of Jazz Ensembles Ryan Gabbart. | Jack Wehman/The Daily Cougar

Antonio Carlos Jobim, Harold Adamson and Jimmy McHugh.

The first half of the show moved a little slowly, but the ensemble ended their performance with a very upbeat “It’s a Most Unusual Day,” arranged by James Sochinski.

The latter half of the concert featured the very talented Jazz Orchestra. Performances were solid gold — and we’re not making a pun because most of their instruments are, too. They performed charts from composers like Dan Cavanaugh, Neil Slater, Charlie Parker, Bob Brookmeyer and a piece originally written by saxophonist Michael Brecker that was later arranged by Rob Lussier into a big band piece.

Each chart was performed soulfully, with each member of the Orchestra visibly enjoying their performance. The musicians really got into it and danced along with the music as though they could feel the rythym in their bones.

Toward the end of the set, Director of Jazz Ensembles Noe Marmolejo had the Orchestra sightread a tune called “The Duke.” The members received the chart for the first time onstage and were given six minor instructions about specific stylistic features of the piece.

Marmolejo said that he refers to the sightreading portion of the concert as the “jihad,” not with a negative connotation, but because sightreading can be a struggle (jihad’s literal translation) to perform the tune without ever doing so before. He also said that jazz musicians aren’t really musicians at all if they can’t sightread well.

The Orchestra performed this tune almost flawlessly. Soloists executed their respective parts marvelously — it was an exhibition of the sheer talent these students possess.

Ending their set with a saxophone-turned-big-band piece “Slings and Arrows,” the Jazz Orchestra delivered a jaw-dropping performance, for which they received a well-deserved standing ovation.

We’ll give both the Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Orchestra nine out of 10 stars for their stellar performances. After all, we were thoroughly impressed — and that’s what really counts, right?

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