The Knox College Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of David Hoffman, set feet tapping and sent sound blasting through Kresge Recital Hall last Saturday. “Moten Swing” started off the first set of the ensemble with the smooth sound and swinging notes that characterize jazz. The song featured solos from junior Josh Garties playing tenor saxophone, senior Jevin Lortie on trumpet and freshman Anna Kraemer on piano.
The second song was called “Diggin’ on Dexter,” played in an allegro tempo. The fast beats compelled foot tapping from the members of the band and the audience. Senior Patrick Dooley’s trumpet solo featured clean notes and attacks. Sophomore Jake Hawrylak really got into his electric guitar solo, putting his whole body into playing and head banging to the beat.
“But Beautiful” was a ballad featuring lead trombone Zach Lawrence set up in the front of the stage. Lawrence set the slow tempo and his crooning notes were soon joined by the rest of the trombone section.
Hoffman composed “Channel 3 Meets the KJE” to commemorate the jazz band’s 2008 trip to Spain. The band had the opportunity to play on a popular daytime TV show and some of its members were interviewed in languages they did not know. “Channel 3 Meets the KJE” had a trumpet solo from Washington High School senior Stuart Mack, who played with good control.
The last song of the first set was “Ran Kan Kan,” a song Hoffman said everyone who has lived in Cuba must have heard at some time and featured all of the percussion. With a call of “Ran Kan Kan” from the band, they lively played in cut time. Lortie, during his trumpet solo, added in a few measures of “La Cucaracha” to keep things interesting and causing the audience to laugh.
Before set two of the concert was to begin, the jazz band came running from the aisles and onto the stage wearing a variety of wacky hats. Hoffman, sporting a brown fedora, said it was hat night. Some had bandanas and Dooley wore a hat resembling the head of a stallion.
Providing vocals for “Almost Like Being in Love” and “Makin’ Whoopee” was sophomore Laurel Tippe, who wore a penguin hat and whose vocal stylings complemented the jazz band.
“Recuerdos” was a song which combined Cuban music with big band jazz. Latin percussion, including bongos, were featured in “Recuerdos.”
As a tribute, the last song of the night was “A Little Minor Booze” by Willie Maiden. Maiden was Hoffman’s composition teacher.
The song received a standing ovation from the audience.
However, as a sign for more to come, Hoffman replaced his fedora with a hat resembling a cooked turkey, complete with moving, mechanical drumsticks and gobbling sounds.
He announced the jazz band’s encore as Eddie Harris’ “Cold Duck Time.” The song was the highlight of the night as it had solos and improvisations from everyone in the band. Members of the band each put their own twist and style in their solos. Junior percussionist Sam Lewis played drums so hard he lost a stick.
“Cold Duck Time” received another standing ovation from the audience and was a great end to a fun night.