The Ruth Lilly Performance Hall hosted the University of Indianapolis Jazz Ensemble on Tuesday, Feb. 23. The ensemble performed a total of eight songs and was joined on the last four by renowned saxophonist Jim Snidero.
The first performance of the night was “Sesame Street,” by Joe Raposo, Jon Stone and Bruce Hart, arranged by Dennis DiBlasio.
Jazz Studies Director Freddie Mendoza opened the performance by asking for a show of hands from those who grew up with the show “Sesame Street.” He went on to explain the history of the song and how it came to be so popular.
The tune included solos from freshman music performance major Greg Benham on trumpet, freshman jazz studies major Evan Hawk on guitar, sophomore jazz studies and music tech and recording double major Sidney Carpenter-Wilson on trombone and Indiana University doctoral student Lexie Signore on trumpet.
The ensemble’s second performance of the night was “Almost Like Being in Love,” by Allen J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe. The song included a vocal performance by sophomore general music major Isabella “Ivy” Bott with the ensemble playing alongside her.
The song “The Big Cat” by Al Cohn, was performed next. Mendoza talked about how much fun the song was to play and the influence big band music has had on jazz.
Solos were played by sophomore general music major Braden Strole on trumpet, senior piano performance major James Loughery on piano, senior music composition major Abigail O’Neal on vibraphone and adjunct faculty member of music Mark Ortwein on tenor saxophone.
The next performance of the night was “We’ll Be Together Again,” by Carl T. Fischer and Frankie Laine, arranged by Bob Florence. The song included a vocal performance by Bott and a solo by Ortwein on tenor saxophone.
Mendoza commended Bott’s performance, saying that she sounded exactly like Diane Schuur from her performance with the Count Basie Orchestra.
The song “B Jam Blues,” by Paul Baker, was next on the ensemble’s setlist. The song included solos from Loughery on piano, Ortwein on tenor saxophone, Hawk on guitar, freshman music education major Anthony Myers on drums and the jazz ensemble’s special guest, Jim Snidero, on alto saxophone.
“Tico Tico,” by Zequinha Abreu, arranged by Bill Homan, was the next performance of the night. Solos were performed by Strole on trumpet, O’Neal on vibraphone, Snidero on alto saxophone and community member Steve Simon on trombone.
Mendoza went on to talk about the important role the vibraphone played in the creation of the song and commended O’Neal’s talent.
The next song, “Royal,” by Don Menza, was played with Jim Snidero as the single soloist for the performance. And the final tune of the night was “Sister Sadie,” by Horace Silver, arranged by Rich DeRosa. The song included solos by Simon on trombone, Snidero on alto saxophone, Loughery on piano, Hawk on guitar and Ortwein on tenor saxophone.
Bott found the atmosphere of the concert inviting and relaxed.
“I would say ‘We’ll Be Together Again’ was my favorite,” she said. “I have always like the ballads. They are easier for me to get into. I just loved how relaxed the atmosphere was and how relaxed jazz people are. It always seems more open and fun.”
Carpenter-Wilson was able to work with Snidero firsthand and learn from him.
“I really liked ‘The Big Cat,’ especially the chorus. I thought that would have been a cool way to end the concert, but you always have to end with a bang, I guess,” he said. “We had a workshop with him [Snidero] the night before the concert actually, and he widened my horizons about improv in jazz music.”
Junior general music major Ron Dukes attended the concert and enjoyed both the music and the atmosphere.
“The jazz ensemble always puts on great stuff,” he said. “I’m a little biased. I like the vocal pieces a lot, being a vocalist myself, but I particularly liked ‘Royal,’ by Don Menza. I attend a lot of classical concerts, so the atmosphere of jazz concerts is a lot more laid back.”