Jazz Ensembles to Present Fall Concert

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

West Virginia Wesleyan College’s jazz ensembles will present their annual fall concert on Friday, December 6, in the Virginia Thomas Law Center for Performing Arts at 8 p.m. on the Buckhannon campus.  The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. James Moore, director of jazz ensembles and associate professor of music, explains that the concert again features a new ensemble.

“This year we started a New Orleans style brass band in the mold of groups like The Dirty Dozen and Rebirth Brass Band,” explains Moore. “This group has been lots of fun. We have learned the repertoire by ear, trying to avoid using written music wherever possible.”

Moore explains that improvisation is at the heart of this group’s experience.

“We have many students on campus who are immersed in modern jazz improvisation, particularly bebop. This ensemble has helped those students to focus on a more traditional, rhythmically charged style of jazz improvisation.” Moore explains that the challenge lies in creating interesting solos using rhythm rather than complex songs.

“Just because the melodies are simple, does not make this easier. If anything, it is a greater challenge,” says Moore.

The brass band will perform New Orleans standards and other selections in the style of modern New Orleans jazz.

“As far as I know,” states Moore,” we are the only college or university in West Virginia that has such an ensemble.”

The West Virginia Wesleyan Big Band will follow the brass band, presenting a program of music from the Count Basie era. This group, the jazz area’s premiere ensemble, often presents theme concerts as the culminating experience of a semester studying the music of a particular composer or arranger.

“We really value the big band experience at Wesleyan,” says Moore. “The skills that the students develop in this kind of ensemble are very important for anyone who wants to pursue a career in jazz or commercial music performance at the professional level.”

Of equal importance, according to Moore, is the fact that the big band represents a uniquely American approach to ensemble playing.

“The big band really is America’s version of the symphonic ensemble. In other words, the big band is our orchestra,” says Moore.

It is this principle that guides Wesleyan in devoting so much energy to delivering a quality big band experience, explains Moore.

“I think the music of Count Basie and those arrangers who worked for him is an indelible part of American music that students need to study. Jazz music really is unique in that it reflects the values of the African American experience while at the same time serving as high art that is uniquely American,” says Moore.

Established in 2006 by Moore, various small groups of students will round out the concert, performing original arrangements and compositions under the tutelage of Curtis Johnson and Jeff Bush, both adjunct lecturers of music and jazz.

Wesleyan’s music department is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, the only private college in West Virginia to hold this distinction.

For information about the department and its offerings, or the December 6 concert, contact Dr. Moore at moore_j@wvwc.edu.