Jazz band perform music by Ray Charles, Duke Ellington in Doudna – The Daily Eastern News


Strains of the music of Ray Charles and Duke Ellington could be heard pouring out of the Dvorak Concert Hall at the Doudna Fine Arts Center on Tuesday night.

The occasion was Eastern’s Jazz Lab Band performance, a big band jazz concert which, unlike last week’s combo performance, featured up to 19 student-musicians as they strummed their way through the music of not only Charles and Ellington, but also Jerome Richardson, Josef Zawinul, Carolyn Leigh and Cy Coleman.

The centerpiece of the evening was Ellington’s “The Queen’s Suite”, a five-movement piece written for Queen Elizabeth and published after Ellington’s death.

Jazz studies professor and Jazz Lab Band director Paul Johnston, who selects the songs to perform, said he had experience with the piece from his college days.

“I actually played it in my college band, that’s how I found out about it,” Johnston said. “And I bought the CD, and I’ve been listening to it for years. And I just got a special group of people this semester, and I thought we could do it. We have great clarinettists in the band, so I think everyone was up for the challenge.

Luke Noble, a senior trumpeter, said he attended the show to listen to the music rather than play it, and mentioned he knew some of the people on stage.

“It’s just great to see people in their element and to see these bands performing like that,” Noble said. “I feel like you have to see everyone shine and do their own thing. It was great.”

Kyle Huddleston, a graduate student in jazz performance, performs in several jazz bands at Eastern and said the energy between the band on Tuesday night transferred from their rehearsals.

“I think it went really well,” Huddleston said. “I felt like the energy on stage was awesome. I think in general, playing with this band has always been such a fun time, and I think we have to relive that on stage.

The fifth movement of the suite, “The Single Petal of a Rose”, was a piano piece performed by Minsoo Kim and cited by Huddleston and Johnston as one of the highlights of the evening.

“The Queen’s Suite” ended with “Apes and Peacocks”, and Huddleston said he liked how the titles of the movements matched the music.

“There’s this high-energy thing going on with her, and (Ellington’s) writing creates such scenes and images that when you read the names of different moves, it makes perfect sense,” Huddleston said. .

Huddleston, who performed at last week’s combo concert, noted the differences he appreciates between big band and combos.

“Big band fun because the arrangements end up being a lot tighter, and there’s a lot more volume with a lot more people and more people involved,” Huddleston said. “But I like to play with the combos more just because it gives me a little more freedom… I have a lot more room to solo and do my thing. In a combo, it’ll just be like, ‘Here’s two open choruses, do whatever you want with them’, which is great to do.

The next jazz event, featuring guest jazz bassist Chuck Israels, will be on March 22 at 7:30 p.m.

Ryan Meyer can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]

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Henry R. Wright