Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Jazz Band to 'Duke' it out with winter concert

The Augustana Jazz Band will be performing their Winter concert note for note. According to Joseph A. Ott, jazz band director, his group will be performing a transcription concert Friday in Centennial Hall.
Ott said this is difficult for bands to do. Not only does Ott utilize his position to teach his students how to play jazz, he also teaches its history.
“One of the things pedagogically I try to do… is I kind of see the mix of  music and what student talent that I have at that point, what I can exploit, what we can endeavor to learn on this,” Ott said. “Stylistically, you’re going back decades and decades and such, and you’re trying to walk in another person’s shoes and play exactly what that person did. It’s just not like reading music, you’re kind of putting on a persona.”
The band is aiming to put on the persona of Duke Ellington, a famous jazz band artist and composer from the early to mid 1900s.
Ellington is early on the jazz timeline, and while his group was popular for many years, they were best known for their work in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
Junior Elijah Olson, a saxophonist  in the band, said it is the most challenging music he’s played, yet he loves it the most.
“Duke is much different than any other style of jazz because it’s way more rhythmically  complex, and in Duke’s band he wrote the music for his individual players, so it’s really hard because every player has to step up,” Olson said.
Instead of having particular players featured as soloists in this concert, Ellington has it written so everyone gets a shot at showing off their individual talent through solos. Everyone is featured in the band rather than a select few.
One of the pieces featured in the music, “Peer Gynt Suite,” is an orchestral piece, only it’s performed by a jazz band. Sophomore Brian Kuntz, a trombonist in the band, takes trying to capture those elements seriously. He listens to the music they are playing in order to do so.
“There are a lot of different styles that go into those movements,” Kuntz said. “Trying to emulate what the Duke Ellington band is something we are really trying to focus on.”
Caravan is another arrangement they are playing that happens to be a contemporary style, and in Kuntz’s opinion it is one of their most challenging pieces.
“There are a lot of tempo and style changes within that… trying to play as some of the other bands that we’re listening to and trying to emulate what they’re doing is something we’re focusing on, as well as playing within the style that we’re doing,” said Kuntz.
The performance on Friday is free and open to the public.

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Jazz Band to 'Duke' it out with winter concert