I went to see University Jazz Combos at the University of Louisville on February 17, 2014 at 7:00 P.M in Byrd Recital Hall. The groups were the Bobby Watson Combo, the Gary Bartz Combo, and the Muguel Zenon Combo. The Bobby Watson Combo consisted of, John Walker, Isadora Pina, Sam Loomis, Matt Devore, Ben Boelscher, Diego Lyra, Joshua Bradley, and Craig Wagner.
The Gary Bartz Combo consisted of, Jeff Endly, Jake Daniels, Isaac Poole, Kate Tyree, Pedro Augusto, Evan Brown, and Tyrone Wheeler. The Miguel Zenon Combo consisted of, Arabo Bey, Luke Miller, Jon Driver, Will Wilder, Pauline Ottaviano, Eli Weidman, and Ansyn Banks. All of the songs that were played used saxophones. Before this concert I had never really heard a saxophone played live. After going to this concert I want more. The saxophones had a truly astonishing and incredible sound. It was very soothing and actually put me in a good and calming mood. The very first song appeared to have a conductor of some sort up front.
This conductor simply snapped his fingers at the beginning to get them into rhythm to start the performance. After he did this he didn’t do any more hand gestures. After this song I did not see any more conductors. It seemed like the leadership was divided among all the performers. They all did some sort of action to help prepare them for the music they were about to play. The first song I heard was “Whisper Not”, originally composed by Benny Golson. The Bobby Watson Combo performed this song. The style of this song was mostly identical to the other songs performed. All had saxophones, a guitar, and some sort of percussion instrument.
The texture in this jazz piece was definitely heterophonic, just like all jazz music. However, it was also partially homophonic. The character of this piece was a very strong and soothing feeling. The melody is conjunct meaning it mainly flows very well. I can remember the melody because of the absolutely amazing solo performance. I also usually always remember the first piece played at a concert. I believe there is a tonal center is this first piece. A variety of chords are used and they don’t sound unusual in any way. There is one section where the melody and harmony are all moving in the same rhythm.
The notes seem to be somewhat separated. It was actually fairly difficult to find the downbeat. I actually heard a decent amount of crescendos and decrescendos. The tempo is somewhat exciting and made me keep tapping my foot the whole performance. It does not really change much during the song, the whole song I was tapping my foot. The tempo seems to be steady for the most part. Nothing about this particular rhythm really surprised me. It all pretty much flowed together and I knew what to expect. This piece actually contained instruments from three different families: Strings, Bass, and percussion.
I believe it would be very hard to play some of the saxophone notes. This group sounds extremely well together. I loved the way they were all together and played everything at the same time. The tone color of the instruments were very relaxing and up-tempo. All of the sudden the instruments would go from decrescendo to crescendo. This piece communicated to me that jazz can be very exciting and make you want to dance. The performers actually seem to be playing in a very mechanical manner. The second piece of music I heard was “My Little Suede Shoes”, performed by the Bobby Watson Combo. The style of this song was, again, like all of the other pieces played.
This piece consisted of the same instruments as the first piece. The texture of this piece was a mixture of homophonic and heterophonic. The character of this piece made we feel absolutely incredible. It made we want to get up and start dancing in the middle of the concert. The melody is actually somewhat disjunct, meaning it skips around a little bit.
I can remember this melody very well because it was very catchy and was my favorite piece performed. There is definitely a tonal center in this piece and it is absolutely amazing. A variety of chords are used and they sound somewhat unusual in a good way. The melody and harmony never really moved in the same rhythm. The notes definitely seem to be a little bit separated. Just like the last song, this one was also hard to find the downbeat. There was definitely a great combination between decrescendo and crescendo. The tempo is obviously extremely magnificent and made me want to dance, even though tapping my foot was all I could do. The tempo only gets more and more exciting as the piece goes on. This piece ended flowing together very well. It contained the same instruments as “Whisper Not” did. This group once again did not disappoint and sound very incredible together.
The tone color of the instruments was so exciting. Every single time the chorus was about to come up I was on the edge of my seat waiting. This piece showed me that jazz can literally make you want to get up and start dancing. The performers definitely played in a mechanical manner. The next piece of music was called “Black Narcissus”, and was performed by the Gary Bartz Combo. The texture of this piece was homophonic and heterophonic. The instruments were mainly the same as the first two pieces; however, this piece did not use a trumpet as the first two did. The character of this piece was very soft and soothing. It really just made me want to sit there in silence and close my eyes. This melody is definitely disjunct and skips around a pretty good amount. I can’t seem to remember this melody as much as some of the other pieces. I didn’t really recognize a tonal center during the performance.
A variety of chords are used in this melody and they sounds somewhat usual. The harmony and melody, just like in the last song, did not really move together. It was extremely difficult to find the downbeat in this song. There was a very light connection between crescendo and decrescendo. I felt like there was more decrescendo than crescendo. This tempo was very laid back, soothing, and calming.
I wanted to go to sleep during the concert. I honestly think it may have been too slow for my taste. This piece did not flow together as much as some of the other songs performed in the concert. The group sounded decent together. Not as good as some of the other songs, but nothing to complain about. The tone color of the instruments were honestly boring at times. It frustrated me that these instruments were not being played to their full potential. It was not at all exciting and quite frankly made me tired. The performers did however, perform in a mechanical manner for the most part. The fourth piece was titled “Joshua”, and was performed by the Gary Bartz Combo.
The texture of this piece was homophonic along with heterophonic. The instruments were the exact same as the ones used in “Black Narcissus.” The character of this music gave me a slower up-tempo feeling. This piece was definitely ostinato, meaning the same rhythm repeated. It was a little bit on the slow side, but had some pickup to it. This melody is definitely conjunct.
I seem to recall this melody very well because of its unique style. This song definitely had a tonal center and it stuck out the whole song. There is not a lot of variety of chords in this song, but they sound somewhat usual. The harmony and melody in this song moved together so well and did it with passion. Unlike the previous pieces of music, the downbeat was considerably easy to find in this particular piece. This piece definitely included more decrescendo than crescendo in my opinion. The tempo was actually very different. I felt like I could slow dance to it, however, at some points the tempo got faster and in turn made me want to dance faster.
This piece flowed so well together and all of the performers kept the same pace and it was truly beautiful. The next performance was the wonderful “Fatback” performed by the Miguel Zenon Combo. The texture in this piece was again heterophonic and homophonic. It used the exact same instruments and the first two performances. The character of this music gave me a casual and relaxed feeling.
The melody appears at first to be conjunct, but ends up being disjunct towards the end. I don’t seem to recall this piece of music entirely well. There is a lot of variety of chords in this song and they sounded very normal. One thing that really stood out to me in this performance was the incredible solo performance towards the end. It was probably in the top three solo performances I have ever listened to. This song did not really have a noticeable tonal center and you had to dig really deep to try to identify it. The harmony and melody in this song seemed for the most part to flow pretty well. The downbeat was almost impossible for me to find in this song and I do not think I ever successfully identified it. This piece was balanced between decrescendo and crescendo. The tempo was absolutely amazing. It just made me want to sit there and enjoy what was being performed in front of me.
This piece flowed very well for the most part and was performed in a mechanical manner. The sixth and final performance was “Train” performed by the Miguel Zenon Combo. This song seemed almost identical to the fourth song. I was not happy about this because I am used to the last song being the best. The texture was the same as all of the other pieces. Just like “Joshua” it was ostinato and gave a moderate tempo feeling. Just like the fourth piece this one seemed to be conjunct and had a fairly obvious tonal center. The usual sounding chords did not have a lot of variety to them. The harmony and melody moved absolutely perfect together.
Definitely the best out of all the pieces of music performed. The downbeat was considerably easy to find and seemed to use more decrescendo than crescendo. The only difference between this song and the fourth one is the tempo. This song was slow the whole way through. It was much too slow for me and seemed to have no sense of pickup to it. The piece did flow well together in a mechanical matter.
In conclusion, surprisingly, I really enjoyed this performance. I have to say I came into it with a negative approach and amazingly came out with a whole new attitude towards jazz. I loved the mixture of songs that were played. You never knew what you were going to get between slow and fast tempo.
The performers were definitely comfortable performing in front of us. They did their absolute best to play the best music they could possibly play. The music was very easy to follow for the most part. It really was incredible that I could basically follow each piece of music that was played. This concert showed me to never judge a book by its cover. I have a whole new outlook on jazz music and will always start going to concerts with a more positive attitude. It really opened up my mind to astonishing array of sounds brought to me. It was definitely different than most concerts I have attended. I usually go to country concerts, which are a lot bigger and more popular.
However, I’m not so sure I liked the country one better than this one. The amazing part of this jazz concert was how unique it was. I had never heard anything like it and honestly it makes me want to go witness another jazz concert as soon as I can. I would definitely recommend this song to a peer or classmate. University Jazz Combos was absolutely unbelievable and I cannot wait for my next jazz concert.