Written by Rebecca Raub.
On Thursday March 5 at 7:30 p.m., the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) Jazz Ensemble held their spring concert in the Bruce Davis Theater. Members of the SMCM community all came out to see the talented performers. The show featured numbers by the SMCM Dixieland Band, the No Time 5 Jazz Combo, and the SMCM Jazz Ensemble featuring guest artist Jennifer Cooper. Rick Humpreys from the SMCM Music Department directed the show.
The ensemble personnel consists of about 20 members, featuring SMCM students, alumni and other musicians from the St. Mary’s community. Those in the ensemble showcased their talents on flute, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar, keyboard, bass, drums and vocals.
Director Rick Humphreys introduced the performers, and also gave introductions to each of the songs as well, including a mention of what decade each piece was from and other commentary.
To begin the show the ensemble played two songs, which happened to be the most newly composed pieces in the entire show, both from the 21st century. The SMCM Dixieland Band then performed five songs, two of which were slower blues pieces followed by three pop hits from the 60s and 70s. Following these pieces, the No Time 5 Jazz Combo performed five songs, which included classic hits like Toto’s “Africa” and MichaelJackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” To finish up the show, the SMCM Jazz Ensemble played three songs with vocalist Jennifer Cooper. It was very clear how much talent all of the groups in the show have, especially through the numerous student solos featured in each song.
Jennifer Cooper, the guest artist, is the president/CEO of Go-DIVA! Productions, Inc. She is also a performer and professional vocalist who teaches voice lessons, classes and workshops, and we were lucky that she was able to join the SMCM Jazz Ensemble with her stunning vocals and talent.
Isabelle Harsch, who played the keyboard in the show shared, “I started to get into jazz band in high school. My family and I were really into jazz which inspired me to join. I continued this passion here by joining the Jazz Ensemble at SMCM.” When asked about the experience of being in this ensemble, Harsch said, “It’s really nice. A lot of ensembles are very, very strict and are a lot of work. It’s still work here, of course, but it’s such a chill environment and it feels more like everyone is just hanging out and having fun.”
Sophomore Peter Wiley who plays drums in the ensemble shared, “I wanted to join because I played in high school for the last three years and it was super enjoyable, so I wanted to continue playing here. Jazz band is actually a class that you sign up for through the registrar. You don’t have to try out for it, you just have to contact the professor.” Wiley continued, “I was really happy with the concert, I think that everybody played really well. The show went amazingly, and there was a great turnout which I was really happy about.”
The SMCM Jazz Ensemble will celebrate 50 years next year, and hopes that SMCM students will come out to see their future shows. They will perform again in April at the Pub. Other upcoming music events at SMCM include the PING concert on March 7 and the Brass Trio Concert on March 23.