Juilliard Jazz Ensembles
(Juilliard Jazz Web Page)
Hot & Cool: Cannonball Adderley and Dave Brubeck
Sherman Irby, Guest Coach
Elio Villafranca and Bruce Williams
Compositions of Dave Brubeck
Juilliard Jazz Ensemble (Villafranca):
Immanuel Wilkins, Alto Saxophone
Christopher Bittner, Tenor Saxophone
David Adewumi, Trumpet
Kalia Vandever, Trombone
Isaiah Thompson, Piano
Dan Chmielinski, Bass
Charles Goold, Drums
Compositions Performed by Cannonball Adderley
Juilliard Jazz Ensemble (Williams):
Julian Lee, Tenor Saxophone
Noah Halpern, Trumpet
Jonah Moss, Trumpet
William Hawley, Trombone
Joseph Bell, Guitar
Julius Rodriguez, Piano
Sebastian Rios, Bass
Kyle Benford, Drums
Paul Recital Hall
155 West 65th Street
New York, NY 10023
Media Relations: Gloria Gottschalk
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 21, 2016
Tonight’s Juilliard Jazz concert at Paul Recital Hall once again included two remarkable student ensembles, coached by renowned jazz artists. Elio Villafranca, whose piano performances have been reviewed on these pages, and Bruce Williams were both Resident Coaches. The Guest Coach, who oversaw the program, called “Hot & Cool: Cannonball Adderley and Dave Brubeck”, is a star of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Sherman Irby, a stunning alto saxophonist. As is the custom, after the Juilliard Jazz Administration Chair and Associate Director, Aaron Flagg, introduced the ensembles, each ensemble appeared with one intermission in between. The students usually take the stage before each tune to say a few words in commendation of the composer and genre.
The compositions of Dave Brubeck, some of which were new to me, began with “Softly, William, Softly”. This was a slow, brief piece, like an overture, featuring the two saxophones, trumpet, and trombone in understated, echoing flourishes. “Summer on the Sound” was performed full volume, with bass, piano, and drums creating vibrant rhythms. An energized Immanuel Wilkins, on alto sax, was followed by a well prepared David Adewumi on trumpet to present two solo variations of the theme. Then, a highly polished bass player, Dan Chmielinski, added an intriguing solo, before the four brass players brought the sound deeper, tinged with smooth blues. “The Duke” opened with Isaiah Thompson on an enchanting and melodic piano theme, before Kalia Vandever played a tantalizing trombone solo. The piece took on contemporary motifs, ending in a brassy flourish.
“Castilian Blues” picked up the tempo with Christopher Bittner’s tenor sax solo, then joined by the trombone, trumpet, and alto sax. After Charles Goold’s drums induced some fervour, the piece quieted to a lyrical, urban motif. In the final bars, I heard an allusion to Brubeck’s “Take Five”. Brubeck’s lush “Bluette” was very astutely introduced by Chmielinski, the bass player, and it opened with a midnight, Manhattan motif by Thompson on piano. I thought in that moment that this piece would be a superb ballet score in its transporting tonality. Some atonal, fused brass harmonies joined the closing piano spotlight. “Nomad” opened with drums and alto sax, and the now loose, warmed-up, and confident band let it all out. Thompson, on piano, played a rambunctious solo with bass and drums in the mix. Extra percussive splash was infused with Goold’s drums and then Adewumi’s trumpet solo. Soon the full brass with bass, drums, and piano almost brought the Brubeck program to a close, but then Wilkins’ alto sax solo, birdlike and echoing, seized the finale.
A very seasoned second set, a tribute to Cannonball Adderley, who was an alto saxophonist like Sherman Irby, tonight’s Guest Coach, opened with “Jubilation”, a piece by Julian “Junior” Mance, that Adderley had transcribed. It was obvious, immediately, that this ensemble is stage ready to perform in the clubs. My only concern was the fact that the audience program listed Adderley as the composer for the six pieces, and he had composed only a few, while transcribing the others, plus one of this second ensemble’s pieces had changed without a written or clarified program correction. A music school of Juilliard’s caliber should have included a written insert or at least very clearly corrected the composer and music credits in the spoken introductions, as this is also a community education program of note. Brief partial comments were made, but not with sufficient information. I have, however, done the research, and hopefully my findings are accurate. William Hawley, a superb trombonist, opened the solos, after a full band introduction to the brief “Jubilation”.
“Never Say Yes”, by Nat Adderley (Cannonball’s brother, a cornet and trumpet player), opens with Noah Halpern’s long muted trumpet, followed by Julian Lee on tenor sax. One of tonight’s stars was Joseph Bell, on a scintillating, nuanced guitar, and here he played solo, backed by piano, bass, and drums, before Halpern returned on the muted horn. The rhythm was akin to a foxtrot, as this ensemble has a true big band sound. “The Sleeper”, by Cannonball Adderley (whose given name was Julian Edwin), opened with trumpet, then tenor sax in a pronounced bluesy, swing beat. Sebastian Rios’ bass solo was ebullient and buoyant, and the full brass contingent filled the Hall with differentiated harmonies. “Del Sasser”, by Sam Jones, who was Adderley’s bass player, opened with two trumpets, trombone, and saxophone before Bell took another spotlight on guitar. Julius Rodriguez’ piano was brisk and feverish, and, once again, this ensemble was immensely impressive.
“Stars Fell on Alabama”, by Cannonball Adderley, is a lush, slow dance, romantic and melancholy. The highlighted solos were Hawley on trombone and Lee on tenor sax. It was Lee again who opened the next piece, an audience favorite, Cannonball Adderley’s arrangement of the Bock and Harnick Fiddler on the Roof. This tune, tonight, encapsulated the show, which has been reviewed in three different productions on these pages. Jonah Moss on trumpet and the tenor sax were pulsating and compelling, in these renowned bits of “Tradition” and the show’s other hit tunes. Lee’s sax solo was exquisite. “Jessica’s Day”, tonight’s closing tune, (apparently) originally “Jessica’s Birthday” by Quincy Jones, was a red hot, stomping swing, featuring a feverish guitar solo with sensational smoothness. Showcased solos by Halpern on trumpet, Rodriguez on piano, and Rios on bass, all backed by the accomplished Kyle Benford on drums, were resonant.
And now I will listen to the Cannonball Adderley Quartet playing "Stars Fell on Alabama".