Wind, jazz ensembles collaborate in festive concert

The Geneseo Wind and Jazz Ensembles came together for a concert in Wadsworth Auditorium on March 8, and while the differences in style could have been uneven, thematically they each played bouncy tunes you could hum along to.

According to Wind Ensemble conductor James Walker, his three choice pieces are about pageantry and are meant to evoke dancing and feasting.

His opener, “Masque,” by British composer Kenneth Hesketh, followed a bombastic clarinet and saxophone melody.

“Pageant,” conducted by assistant conductor senior Louis Lohraseb, was, according to Walker, “in one sense, dissonant,” composed of “parallel chords” sliding to meet one another. It opened with a rich French horn line, before segueing into a much faster second movement to end the piece.

After a brief speech in which Walker said the final selection would “present us a Mexican festival,” he started “La Fiesta Mexicana - A Folk Song Symphony.”  It began with church bells and rolls of percussion meant to evoke an “Aztec dance.”

After a short march time section, lonely French horns filled out the “Mass” movement, before trilling flutes and mariachi horns closed out the third movement, “Carnival.”

After an intermission the Geneseo Jazz Ensemble took the stage.

Some equipment trouble left bassist junior Justin Joyce unable to perform, but the ensemble soldiered on just fine, though feeling slightly empty with the lack of low-end.

“Big Noise from Winnetka,” as arranged by Paul Lavender, featured a serious clarinet solo from sophomore Nick Ellsworth, who also played saxophone in the Wind Ensemble.

Riding on some sweet cowbell grooves, Mark Taylor’s “Dusk to Dawn” sounded especially sensual, particularly during sophomore Joe DiTursi’s alto sax solo.

Using an arrangement from the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, “The Nearness of You,” featured a prominent vibraphone melody by senior Karl Diener, and the night was closed out with a modern hip-hop arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “Caravan,” a jazz standard.

Thanks to careful programming and enthusiastic performances, what could have been a tonally jarring evening coalesced nicely.