Cued In: Jazz Band 2002 Spring Concert

Cued In: Jazz Band 2002 Spring Concert

MiMi Yeh

While the university may be falling down around us, with budget cuts and retirements left and right, the UMB Music Department didn’t let that stop them from giving another great performance. Under Peter Janson’s direction, the program ranged from smooth, sailing jazz, to hard rocking blues.

It was a night where the musicians truly demonstrated their performance skills, not only in music, but in handling a mistake with humor. About halfway through the program, with the opening of “Don’t Get Around Much More” Colleen Rusconi started to sing until Janson stopped her and the rest of the band saying that he’d started them off in the wrong key. He then pointed to Rusconi and commanded the audience to applaud her since she would’ve gone along with it anyway. It was an evening marked with jazz and jesting. Before he would start a song, Janson would chime in, “Have we got the right note?” much to the audiences’ amusement.

After that minor error, the band’s efforts seemed to double, especially in the proceeding Robben Ford tune “Start It Up,” where vocalist Jim McKenna did such, rocking the room with his ruddy face and explosive voice. Brian Anderson’s soprano sax stood out as polished and subtle with Craig McKeone letting loose nearby.

The performance culminated with an explosive ending in “How High the Moon,” which had the audience applauding on their feet. Walking out afterwards, you could hear the impressed, happy buzz as they went to mingle with the members of the band. The energy that flowed through the music seemed to have captured the audience.

While the jazz band was enjoying their triumph during the reception, I heard the unfortunate news that, after years of service, the UMB Music Department administrative assistant and secretary Jean MacGowan will be retiring. Besides her position as secretary, she is also coordinator and director of the Applied Music Program (Music 185), a program offered through Continuing Education. With no one looking to step in, the future looks rather uncertain. Hopefully, UMass will not let these programs be forgotten.