Monday, June 20, 2011

Should Be Another Good AU Summer Jazz Concert Tonight (Monday, 6/20)

Tonight at 7:30 PM, the Auburn University Jazz Quintet will present the second AU Summer Jazz Concert. Here is the event page from AU's music calendar. Personnel will be faculty members Russell Haight on sax, Matt Wood on trombone and Doug Rosener on drums. Joining them will be two student players, bassist Sidney Simmons and pianist Jonathan Lynn.

The video embedded here is of Russell Haight, now the AU jazz and saxophone instructor, playing with Gabrielle Santiago's group in Austin a couple of years ago. His solo starts about 4:23. When I've heard him, Haight has played even better than on this video, but I can't find anything more recent except for an AU promo for tonight's concert that doesn't really do the group justice.

Haight is a virtuosic improviser. He can connect long phrases over a piece's changing harmonies, creating an easy melodic continuity. And, though I think he will stand out as the star of the show, as he did when the group performed on May 23, there is real talent among all the players.

From Matt Wood, AU's Assistant Professor of Trombone, you'll hear some real seductive playing, especially on the ballads and bluesy pieces. He chooses his notes carefully, and harmonically hints at maybe some free-jazz tendencies. I bet he'd be good at the weird stuff. Doug Rosener is the Assistant Professor of Percussion and the Assistant Director of Bands. One of his fortes is encouraging great chamber performances from his students. As a jazz drummer, he has very good time and plays with a clear precision.

Student members Jonathan Lynn on piano and Sidney Simmons on bass are probably a couple of the best jazz players to come through Auburn in a good while. I've mentioned Simmons's melodic solos before, and Lynn's voicings sometimes seem to channel the long-revered AU jazz guru, Bob Richardson. The two offer good support to the faculty players, and the group as a whole presents its music with skill and clarity.

Music you'll hear will be "Stars Fell on Alabama," "Night in Tunisia," "Corcovado" and other night-themed tunes.

I am grateful to Auburn University for hiring faculty like this and for supporting jazz as an art form. It means we get more chances to hear good music more often. I may have to be a little late, but I hope to see you there.

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