A Review on the Best Student Concert, the Buffalo State Jazz Ensemble

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On November 8th, I attended the Buffalo State Jazz Ensemble directed by Dr. Rick Fleming, and the Buffalo State Jazz Workshop directed by Dr. Mark Filsinger. I picked this concert because jazz is one of my favorite genres, and I thought it would be nice for me to pick a concert that a lot of my friends are in so that this review will be more fun to write about!

The Jazz Ensemble includes the instruments of saxophone (soprano and alto), trombone, trumpet and instruments in the rhythm section such as drums, piano, upright bass, and bass. In the Jazz Workshop, their instruments include trumpet, alto saxophone, trombone, guitar, bass, and drums.

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About the performance location, I feel as if this group was small enough to be able to perform in Ciminelli Recital Hall instead of the Performing Arts Center. I left as if there wasn’t enough of them to fill the whole stage! But it was still great! I was very surprised about the amount of people that were there. I saw not only a lot of faculty and family, but I saw a lot of students. And I’m not just talking about music students that have to attend these concerts for their lesson grade, I’m talking about students that genuinely wanted to attend to watch! I loved that I saw that! I’m really happy that I saw people clap after each time a performer played solo. It is very encouraging for the students to hear. The audience was very engaged by the music; you could tell because of the lack of texting that I saw! The overall environment was great and I am happy that I attended this concert!

The first group that performed was the Jazz Workshop, the only performed 3 pieces. The first one was called, “All the Things You Are” composed by Jerome Kern. This piece gave me a nice slow jazz feeling. It brought me back into time. You can definitely picture this piece playing at someone’s wedding as well.

The next piece they performed was “All Blues” by Miles Davis. This was mostly targeted at the trumpet player, Corey Talford. The whole piece was almost like one big solo to him. It was cool to see him playing will all different kinds of mutes to create all of the different sounds! With only having 6 performers playing 6 different instruments, they made it sound amazing; made it seem like nothing was missing! The runs that the trumpet player did were just amazing, I didn’t know that Corey had a talent like that; it was nice to see him show that off.

The last number that the Jazz Workshop performed was “Au Privave” by Charlie Parker. Out of all three, this one was my favorite because it was upbeat and cheerful. When I looked around, I could see everyone’s feet tapping to the beat. Just like how the last piece they played was dedicated to the trumpet player, this one was focusing on the alto saxophone player, Matt Cohen. During this whole performance, there was an older piano player, but his name wasn’t written onto the program. He as well had a couple of bars to show off to the crowed! This piece was one of their more shorted pieces, which I think it was great. It captured our attention from start to finish. It was a great piece for them to end on a good note with. All three of theses jazz piece were all one movement pieces.

The next group that performed was the Jazz Ensemble. The first piece that they played was called, “But Thanks for Asking” by Jeff Jarvis. Right when this piece started, I was already blown away. Looking back at my notes, the first thing I wrote down was, “Saxophones..wow”.

Being a music major, I can only imagine how hard that first rhythm was! I wasn’t really a call and response, it was more of an overlapping polyrhythm. I wouldn’t be able to keep track of where I was in the music!. This wasn’t my favorite number that they performed, but it was a GREAT one to set the tone with! The saxophones and trumpets all took turns with solos. I always thought that they were reading music for their solos, but when I talked to some of them after the concert, they mentioned that it was all improvisation. They get told how many measures they get, and what key to play in, and they just go along with the music! Half of them said that they play the same solo every time they practice it, but the other half said that they make up something new every time!

The next piece was called, “Salt City Samba” by Andrew new. This piece had the best beat! Just like I said about one of the other pieces before, it made me feel like I was in an old movie! If you have ever seen the pixar movie “The Incredibles”, this sounded like it came straight from the soundtrack. The beginning was great, the trombones came in with a steady bass line sharing it with the trumpets while the rhythm section came in with the jazzy cymbals. Even though the saxophones had most of the melody, every section fit so perfectly well together. Corey got another trumpet solo and it was even better than the last one. Even the drummer got some out time! This was overall a great piece that you could tell the performers were having fun with, which also made it more enjoyable to watch.

“You’ve Changed” by Fisher and Casey, arranged by Carol McLaughlin, was next and it was a nice change in theme. Ryan came in with the saxophone really nice and sweet; made us all feel really relaxed! It was a great solo. Steady rhythm, and you could tell that he knew his stuff very well! All the of the trumpets in the back row all has mutes and that really helped change the whole vibe of the piece. While listening, I used my music theory skills to be able to tell that they changed keys a lot! Only part that I didn’t like, was the fact that the trombones didn’t have a big part in this piece. I know it was supposed to be that way because it wasn’t a very loud number, but I always feel bad when there is an amazing song being played and a section doesn’t have much of a part!(can you tell I’m a violin player who is used to having the melody all the time!). I have done so many of these concert reviews since I’ve been in college, and one thing that I find that helps every time is to close my eyes and see what kind of image or scene comes into my head. For the one, when I closed my eyes, I could picture an old movie where a sad man is sitting at a bar all by himself.

“Route 66” by Bobby Troup, arranged by Mark Taylor was great! It was awesome to see Dr. Fleming taking a break from conducting and actually joining this ensemble by playing the color trombone part! It’s always great to talk to some of the professors about their performances, but to actually see them do something besides teach and conduct was great! It’s amazing how much talent out schools professors have. This piece was a perfect example of call and response. Dr. Fleming would go back and forth with the rest of the group, it was great. From start to finish, it was upbeat and cheerful to listen to.

“Beautiful Dreamer” by Stephen Foster, arranged by Pete McGuinnes was my favorite piece out of the whole concert! My favorite part was when, around 30 seconds in, the trompones help and long low drone, and it just sounded so cool! Since this is Ryan’s last concert before he graduates, he had another solo opportunity and he killed it, it was amazing! You could see how into it he was because his face was turning red like a tomato.

“Inner Urge” by Joe Henderson, arranged by Mark Taylor didn’t really interest me so much. I don’t know why, it was great, it just didn’t grab my attention. There wasn’t a lot of different melodies or rhythm, it just sounded the same all the way through. I will say thought that it did seem very difficult! All that put aside, Jon did an amazing job at his saxophone solo. He’s one of the younger guys, so it was nice to see him get some of the spot light. You could tell that he has some room to grow! Marcus, the bass/guitar player also had his first solo of the night and it was great! Very upbeat and difficult.

The last piece that the jazz Ensemble performed was, “Touch the Sun” by Mike Tomaro. It was a great piece with a great ending, but I feel as if this piece and “Beautiful Dreamer” should have switched places in the program. “Beautiful Disaster” would have been a great note to end on. But once it got to last 40 seconds or so, everything turned around, there was a modulation that I wasn’t expecting! While listening to this number, you can tell how much all of the performers rely on each other to know their parts well so that everyone can come in on time. That is just another form of needed teamwork to play in a smaller ensemble like this one!

This concert was over all one of the best student concerts I have been to in a long time. It is great to see all of the talent that runs through this department, and all of the hard work that every student and faculty member puts in to make it a great performance! I would highly recommend this concert and others like it to music and non music students!

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A Review on the Best Student Concert, the Buffalo State Jazz Ensemble. (2023, Feb 25). Retrieved from


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