Students in the Hofstra Jazz Ensemble filled the Helene Fortunoff Theatre in Monroe Lecture Center with the sounds of Duke Ellington and other jazz composers at the Peter B. Clark Memorial Scholarship Fund Concert on Sunday, Nov. 20. Despite delays to the show due to a broken bass string, the concert commenced under the direction of Dr. David Lalama. Dr. Lalama introduced the ensemble to the audience and noted that the program was a homage to the works by and inspired by the revered Duke Ellington. In between selections, Dr. Lalama engaged with the audience by telling background stories about each piece as well as occasional jokes.
The Hofstra Jazz Ensemble was not alone during Sunday night’s performance. The Hofstra Vocal Jazz Quartet – directed by soprano vocalist Christina Cinnamon – joined the ensemble on Duke Ellington’s “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and a Billy Strayhorn piece arranged by Mark Taylor titled “Take the ‘A’ Train.”
Additionally, Hofstra professor, jazz pianist and songwriter Adam Glaser accompanied the ensemble as a special guest on a handful of numbers. Glaser boasts a long history of experience, having guest conducted for various musical groups in addition to performing with and composing for a wide range of ensembles.
The set included a diverse selection of jazz standards ranging from “Passion Flower,” a tender ballad by Billy Strayhorn featuring soloist Joshua Boucicaut on alto saxophone, to “Perdido,” a swinging, upbeat piece composed by Puerto Rican trombonist Juan Tizol and arranged by Dr. Lalama. Other notable tunes performed at the event included Duke Ellington’s jazzed up version of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker Suite” and an arrangement by Robert Buonaspina, the ensemble’s primary pianist, of “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder.
Reactions to the show were overwhelmingly positive with the entire theater erupting in applause after each performance and the entire production. Student reactions appeared equally enthusiastic.
“I loved it … I really liked ‘Lush Life,’” commented Hofstra jazz and commercial music major Brianna Warren, referring to Jacob Fruchtl’s solo performance of Billy Strayhorn’s piece accompanied by Dr. Lalama on piano.
Hofstra University students were admitted to the concert for free. Outside attendees paid $10 for admission while seniors and non-Hofstra students paid $8. Named after Peter B. Clark, a Hofstra New College alumnus who passed away after a brief illness in 1993, the event was intended to raise money for a scholarship fund in his name.
- “Sir Duke”
- “Rockin’ in Rhythm”
- “Passion Flower”
- “Switch in Time”
- “Duke’s Place”
- “In a Mellow Tone”
- “The Nutcracker Suite”
“Mvt. I: Overture”
“Mvt. II: Toot, Toot, Tootie Toot”
“Mvt. III: Peanut Brittle Brigade”
- “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”
- “Lush Life”
- “Happy-Go-Lucky Local”
- “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good”
- “Take the ‘A’ Train”