Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Colin Smith, Staff Writer
“I don’t take myself seriously, but I take what I do seriously,” Jazz Band Director Tom Evans said in the middle of Friday’s set. The band was particularly animated as seniors performed their last waltz during their concert, “This Way Out.”
As the doors opened, student band the Mothership Connection welcomed the audience with funky numbers performed by two saxophone players, a trumpeter, a drummer, a pianist and a bassist.
As saxophonist Aaron Parach (K’13) introduced the band to the audience, the seats filled. In the opening song, “Come Out Swingin’,” Parach and Joe Barth (K’13) exchanged solos. Bret Linvill (K’15) also showcased his talent, especially in the song “All Blues” from Miles Davis’ watershed album, Kind of Blue.
Michael “Iggy Talls” Ignagni (K’12) finished his Jazz Band career with an extended drum solo on “Lawn.” After the show, he reflected on his four years as the band’s drummer: “I gained not just the skills of a solo musician, but that of a group musician [...] to blend with other musicians, which is the most important in playing music,” he said.
Hannah Royce (K’12), a music major who performed her jazz SIP last quarter, was another of the night’s highlights. She joined the band for “Just Friends” and “When I Fell In Love.” Royce left the stage after sharing a poignant hug with Evans.
Before he walked off the stage, Evans reminded the audience, “without you it’s just a rehearsal; with you it’s a performance.” Evans returned to direct the band in a funk tune encore, but only with the promise that everyone would get up and dance. Throughout the song the bass kept time and structure among saxophone, trumpet and guitar solos.
Evans said that K College is full of talent, but not just the talented musicians who played on stage Friday and not just musical talent. He said his musicians were “doing it for the right reason–they’re doing it for the pure love of music, as they are not going into professional careers.” He said that there are two critical transitions in a growing musicians life–one in middle school when the musician decides to quit or to stick with music, and one in college when the musician stays committed to their passion.
Evans said jazz is a language that “has to be mired, refreshed.” A musician has to know the standards, but simultaneously must add new ideas so that jazz “won’t become a museum piece.” Indeed the jazz band “reaches a young audience while not speaking in a young voice.”