Jazz groups get in the swing for tonight's concert

Friday, April 23, 2010

Big band sounds and a music veteran's performance will mark the end of the season for the first-ever Jazz Series concerts at Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus tonight.

Southeast's Studio Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Lab Band will perform several selections each and welcome a special guest musician, Daniel Jordan.

Jordan has worked in music performance and college music education for over 30 years. As a musician he played alongside legendary jazz performers and singers such as Maynard Ferguson, Natalie Cole, Barry Manilow, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr. and Aretha Franklin, as well as groups The Temptations and The Four Tops. As an educator, Jordan created an instructional jazz performance video, "Journey through Jazz," that was distributed nationwide to school music programs. He also worked on national television programs, as an Academy Award special music leader for "Siskel and Ebert" and with songwriter and musician Paul Anka on the "Late Show with David Letterman."

On Thursday, Jordan worked with student musicians in master classes at the River Campus. Spencer Day, a second-year music major, is a member of the Studio Jazz Ensemble and will play a tenor saxophone solo in the selection "Cruisin' Blues" tonight. Day said having the opportunity to work with Jordan helped his skills in improvisation and soloing.

Day, who has played instruments since middle school, said he hopes to make a career out of playing jazz. He said tonight's experience playing with Jordan should be an amazing one he can learn a lot from.

Associate professor of music Dr. Robert Conger had been trying for years to bring Jordan to the River Campus, he said. The two have been friends since they attended college together and have played side by side many times over the years since they both ended up living in Florida afterwards. Jordan still lives in Orlando. On Thursday night, Jordan sat in with the local jazz combo organized by Conger, Sultans of Swing, at Buckner Brewing Co.

Conger said Jordan is good at working with students by teaching them about what should be going on in the psyche of a musician.

"If I had to describe Dan, I couldn't do it in one word. He's kind of a psychologist, jazz saxophonist, slash hippie," he said.

Conger said Jordan is everything he looks for in a clinician, because he is a positive and encouraging role model.

Students preparing for tonight have had their practice time being put on the back burner recently, Conger said, because they have been doing a lot of traveling.

"This is probably the most difficult chart we've ever played."

Conger has been hearing complaints from the student about the music's difficulty, he said, but added that a lot of rehearsal time has been spent on learning to play pieces such as the jazz standard "Just Friends," which will sound fantastic.

Jordan will play tenor saxophone in the concert, titled "Swing, Swang, Swung." He will perform alongside both ensembles, as well as perform solos. According to Conger, during the Jazz Lab Band's performance, Jordan will play the jazz flute, which is something that has not been heard at the River Campus before.

According to the university's website, students in the Studio Jazz Ensemble featured as soloists will include Day, playing tenor sax, Nate Nall, playing trumpet, Jarred Harris, playing bass, Geoff Huff, playing alto saxophone and Brandon Harvey, playing drums.

Tonight's concert will conclude a first-ever Jazz Series for the music department. Other events included "Jazz: Homegrown in America," a big band concert in October featuring music by American composers and the annual Clark Terry/Phi Mu Alpha Jazz Festival Gala in February.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. today in the Bedell Performance Hall.

General admission tickets are available for $10 at the River Campus box office or by calling 651-2265. Tickets can also be purchased through MetroTix at outlets, online at metrotix.com or by calling 800-293-5949.

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