Jazz vocalist from IU performs at UIndy

Rachel Caswell performs during an evening of jazz for UIndy’s Jazz Artist Concert Series. Photo by Andy Carr
Rachel Caswell performs during an evening of jazz for UIndy’s Jazz Artist Concert Series. Photo by Andy Carr

Jazz vocalist and Adjunct Lecturer in Music at Indiana University of Bloomington Rachel Caswell gave a concert at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 28,  in Ruth Lilly Performance Hall as part of the Jazz Concert Series.

Jazz Studies Director Mark O’Connor was in charge of  bringing
in the artists for the Jazz Artist Concert Series.  He chose Caswell because of her talent as a vocalist.

Caswell sang songs from her most recent album, “All I Know: Duets with Dave Stryker and Jeremy Allen,” and her first album, “Some Other Time,” as well as songs of non-jazz artists from the 1970s and 1980s.  She was accompanied by an instrumental trio that included a guitarist, bassist and drummer.

The first song Caswell performed was “Sometimes I’m Happy,” by Leo Robin, Clifford Gray and Vincent Youmans and made popular by Nat King Cole.  It featured both vocal and guitar improvisation.  Next was “For All We Know,” by J. Fred Coots and Sam M. Lewis, the inspiration for the title of her second album, according to Caswell.  The song included vocal, guitar and bass improvisation.

Caswell’s third song was “Fragile,” written and performed by English musician Sting.  Caswell sang the song in a jazz style, featuring vocal and guitar improvisation. O’Connor said he liked that Caswell chose to incorporate more modern pieces, such as “Fragile” in her set.  He hoped the audience was able to take away something from Caswell’s blend of traditional jazz standards and modern pieces.

“I hope that the main thing that they took away from it is that good music is good music, no matter what style it is,” O’Connor said.

Following “Fragile,” Caswell sang “How Deep Is the Ocean,” originally written by Irving Berlin and performed by Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday.  Vocal, guitar, bass and drum improvisation was added to the piece. To follow, Caswell performed a slower song written by Billy Strayhorn, known for his work with Duke Ellington.  “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” which featured a solo guitar intro and bass and guitar improvisation.  “Marsh Blues” by jazz saxophonist Christine Jensen, followed Strayhorn’s piece. Caswell vocally improvised the entire song, which also included guitar, bass and drum improvisation.

“Agua de Beber,” by Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and lyricist Vinieius de Moraes, was the seventh song in the set.  While the song was originally written in Portuguese, Caswell sang it in English.

“I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, followed.  The piece featured vocal improvisation by Caswell as well as guitar and bass improvisation.  “Drown in My Tears,” by Henry Glover and performed by Ray Charles was the next song. The piece, originally written by Henry Glover, was made popular by Ray Charles, Caswell told the audience.  Caswell concluded her set by singing a jazz rendition of  “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” written by American musician Paul Simon for Simon and Garfunkel.  Throughout the duration of the song, Caswell encouraged the audience to snap along as she sang.

O’Connor encourages UIndy students to attend the other concerts in the Jazz Concert Series throughout the school year.

“We’re lucky at UIndy that we have world-class talent coming through [in] the Jazz Concert Series and Jazz Week,” O’Connor said. “Particularly with the Jazz Concert Series, we’re lucky to be featuring the great talent that we have here in Indianapolis.  That’s really what that concert series is all about.”

Upcoming  in the order of performance for  the Jazz Concert Series are the Tucker Brothers, who will perform at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 in the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall.