(Dan Z. Johnson / staff photographer)

From Copland to War, Swarthmore Students are Jazzing it Up

On Sunday, November 18, Swarthmore College’s Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo will perform various music from famous composers like trumpeter Clifford Brown, the band War, pianist and organist Count Basie, Aaron Copland, pianist George Gershwin, and Henry Mancini. It is the wish of Andrew Neu, director of the Jazz Ensemble and one of the college’s Associates in Performance, that the concert will showcase “jazz standards” (like music by Clifford Brown) and music from “legendary big bands” (like music by Count Basie and War) while also highlighting the musical “strength and personality of the band.”

This concert is particularly unique because two of the pieces that will be performed include vocals to be sung by Swarthmore students, a rare occurrence according to Neu. The students who will be singing are Veronica Yabloko, Shelby Billups, Ben Warren, and Omar Camps-Kamrin.

Billups says she is “ immensely excited to not only be singing in a quartet with other talented singers, but to be singing alongside such a large band. This will be my first time singing jazz with a full band and in such a large setting, and I’m so lucky to get to do this with such a talented group of musicians.” Warren also expresses similar enthusiasm, excited for this “ rare opportunity to get to perform with a big band.” He says, “The voice program here [Swarthmore] deals mostly with classical music, and while I love it, it’s always nice to broaden my horizons as a performer.”

In addition to jazz standards and classics like “I’ll Remember Clifford,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” and “Basie Straight Ahead,” the ensemble will also perform “TSC Blues,” “Fanfare for the Common Man,” “The World is a Ghetto,” pieces that were written “written exclusively for jazz ensembles.” “TSC Blues” is an original composed by Brain Pastor, a Philly locale and principal trombonist of the Philly Pops. “Fanfare for the Common Man,” arranged by Aaron Copland, is a creative, somewhat “unusual” interpretation of music originally purposed for brass and percussion. “The World is a Ghetto” is Andrew Neu’s own arrangement, which, he feels is “nothing like the original.” While the original music leans more towards being R&B, Neu’s arrangement is more “idiomatic towards a jazz ensemble,” almost resembling a jazz waltz.

The full program lineup is: “Basie Straight Ahead,” “TSC Blues,” “I Remember Clifford,” “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “Love Beams,” “And What if I Don’t,” “Look to the Sky,” “Fanfare for the Common Man,” “Come Rain or Shine,” “Dreamsville,” “Riverscape,” and “the World is a Ghetto.” “And What if I Don’t” and “Look to the Sky” will be performed by the Jazz Combo, a separate and smaller ensemble of students supported by the Elizabeth Pollard Fetter Chamber Music Program, and the pieces that will include vocals are “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” and “Come Rain or Shine.”

The event will start at 7:30 P.M. in the Lang Concert Hall, and it will be live streamed.

Maria Consuelo de Dios ’21

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