Wind and Jazz Ensembles put on harmonious concert

The ringing clash of a cymbal and the lingering song of an oboe: these are a few of the sounds with which Wadsworth auditorium was awash this past Friday night.

When Geneseo's own Wind and Thursday Night Jazz Ensembles took the stage, the showed off their skills and delighted their audience with a solid opening to the spring season.

Based on the conceit, "Obstinate Music," the concert revolved around the idea of repetitive musical themes and recurring ground beats. However, the real recurring theme of the night wasn't a couple of eighth-notes or a series of chromatic scales; it was the repetition of truly good performances, and as the lights dimmed, Wind Ensemble began that trend with its opening song.

Led by the percussion section's strong beat, the Wind Ensemble's rendition of Samuel Barber's "Commando March" was sometimes playful and sometimes menacing, with crescendos that filled the entire auditorium. It was an invigorating start to the night, and it was almost sad to listen to it fade in the face of the next tune: a transcription of Johann Sebastian Bach's "Pasacaglia in C Minor."

A somber choice, Bach's song was both beautiful and powerful, replaying the same theme over 20 times in at least 20 different ways. It passed the premise from instrument to instrument, changing shape and tone with each new reed it ran across, leaving audiences feeling warmed as if wrapped in a blanket of music.

However, the Ensemble was quick to rip that blanket away and prepare audiences for a jazzier beat as they premiered Conductor James Walker's original "Ballad of Solo Jazz Trumpet and Wind Ensemble." The work, which, according to its composer, "would allow [soloist and Jazz Ensemble director, Jonathan Kruger] to cross over from the classical to the jazz and back again," was a high volume treat. Clean and easy, the piece was a wonderful showcase for Kruger's fancy fingering.

All good things must end, though, and Wind Ensemble closed off its set nicely with David Holsinger's "Prelude and Rondo" and Bin Kaneda's "Pasacaglia." Grand with a lot of strength to back them up, both pieces were modern and smooth; fitting ends to Wind Ensemble's role that night.

Yet, even with the variety of songs Wind Ensemble played, by intermission, anxiety had built up to hear something a little less "obstinate" and a bit more spontaneous. Luckily, ten minutes later, Jazz Ensemble walked on stage, its energetic, entertaining playing, accented by a festival of stunning, improvised performances, including a sultry saxophone serenade courtesy of sophomore Stephen Roff, and one tricked-out "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," played by sophomore trumpeter, Sara Smacher.

Freshman Cory Young, though, really showed his stuff with a series of solos that ranged from the smoky and seductive, in Jazz Ensemble's enticing take on an old film noir-style classic, "Harlem Nocturne," to the bold and brassy, in the Ensemble's uplifting, swinging send-off (with the greatest name ever), "Deadly Schmedley."

From Bach to blues, from sunny solos to enjoyable Ensembles, Friday's concert was a good night for music, assuring audiences once again of the talent Geneseo has to offer.