Here’s a new twist on the name “jazz joint,” as in nightclub that features the music. Next week, the WPI Jazz Combo and the Assumption Jazz Ensemble will present shows on each other’s campuses. Rich Falco, WPI’s director of jazz studies, explains: “Each year we reach out to arrange joint concerts in a spirit of camaraderie in a noncompetitive concert format, which generally ends with a postconcert jazz ‘hang’ where students get to meet ‘jazzers’ from other campuses. These important exchanges bring a sense of shared community to our campus jazz musicians.”
Who: WPI Stage Band
What: Joint Concert
Where: Assumption College, Kennedy Hall
When: Monday, April 20, at 7 p.m.
The exchange is a longstanding tradition with WPI. Past “joint” programs include concert exchanges with Wellesley College, MIT, Boston University, Williams College, Clark University, University of Rhode Island, College of the Holy Cross, the Rhode Island Coast Guard Academy, and Brown University.
WPI senior Luke Perreault is a trumpeter in the WPI Stage Band. “The Assumption show will—very sadly— be my last performance,” he says. “I’ve been performing in the Stage Band since I was a freshman. To my knowledge the Stage Band’s never played with Assumption, so this is exciting.
“As for joint concerts with other schools, I’ve played with the Clark band a couple of times, and last year at Wellesley College. The joint concerts are awesome—it’s great to invite people to our campus and to be invited to go visit other campuses. Jazz is a conversational language; it just feels good to be able to play with other people.”
Who: Assumption Jazz Ensemble
What: Joint Concert
Where: WPI, Goat’s Head Pub
When: Thursday, April 23, at 7 p.m.
David Jost is the jazz ensemble director at Assumption. “We worked together for many years when I hosted the Massachusetts Jazz Educator’s (MAJE) Jazz Choir/Jazz Combo Festival at WPI,” Falco says. “He is a super-active jazz educator and MAJE’s treasurer.”
A retired educator from Worcester Public Schools, Jost also serves as visiting lecturer at Assumption. “This is my only assignment, he says. “Although, I do help students with the recording studio, improvisation, and woodwind instruction when needed.”
The Assumption Jazz Ensemble is a big band consisting of 13 members. Jost says with each new semester, he has seen more players join in. For the WPI visit, the AC band will be performing such jazz standards as Stolen Moments, A Sunday Kind of Love, All of Me, Oye Como Va, Manteca, Work Song, and Bye Bye Blackbird.
“Many of these are arrangements that have been developed from lead sheets and a strong focus is placed on improvisation and soloing,” Jost says. “I like hearing the students develop from beginning jazz improvisers, to more sophisticated forms of jazz. I really enjoy seeing them get excited about many of the jazz standards, and becoming connected to jazz.”
Assumption and WPI have done a joint concert in the past, “a few years ago and it was a great success,” Jost says. “Professor Falco and I are looking forward to what amounts to a collegiate exchange concert. It’s a great experience for both of our communities and the greater Worcester community. It is important for our students to hear other college bands perform, and to have the opportunity to share their musical experience in the Worcester community. Music doesn’t become real until it gets performed.”
Jost adds, “I hope that audiences enjoy the performance and come and support our students at AC and WPI. Worcester has a long tradition of supporting jazz and live music, and it is great to be a part of it.”
WPI’s Perreault concurs. “I hope people take away from the show an understanding of how much the bands performing love jazz, love music, and love playing music together. For the past four years, playing in the WPI Stage Band has been my therapy at a school that can be very stressful. Music can be so nourishing and bring out the most vibrant qualities in people—jazz especially. I hope we can share that with the audience, even a little bit.”