There is no doubt that every person has visited a music concert in their life. The most captivating are all those melodic tunes that penetrate the spectator’s brains and compel their attention in the heat of the moment, making them fall in love again. Sometimes, melodies may evoke horror, soul trembling, and morose feelings of something incomprehensible. Jazz shows the other side of music. The current month a jazz band adored by millions of people staged a nice concert, and this paper aims to represent the detailed analysis of it.
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Henry Mancini Institute (HMI) presented a marvelous jazz band called Jazz Septet directed by Terence Blanchard and advised by John Daversa. The concert took place at 8 o’clock p.m. on Saturday, September 27 at Maurice Gusman Concert Hall of the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida. Stephan Guerra as the managing director of HMI organized the performance. In fact, Jazz Septet comprises such participants as saxophonists Alex Weitz and David Leon, trumpeter Jared Hall, pianist Tal Cohen, bassist Geoffrey Saunders, drummer Evan Hyde, and vocalist Sherrine Mostin. The concert program included such musical masterpieces as “Equilibrium” performed by Alex Weitz, “F.U.S 60 Minutes or Less” by Sherrine Mostine, “Depridation” by Ewan Hyde, “Lo Hiya Velo Hiye” by Tal Cohen, arr. Alex Weitz, and “Stay Afloat” by Evan Hyde, arr. Geoffrey Saunders. Brilliant performances were accompanied by the applauses.
Jazz is a music style that appeared on the verge of the XIX-XX centuries in USA as a synthesis of African and European cultures. Among the specific traits of jazz are improvisations, imbroglios based on the syncopated rhythm, and a unique complex of methods of rhythm performance known as swing. The further development of jazz was a result of learning new rhythmic and harmonic models by jazz musicians. Talking about improvisation, it is a process of creation of music compositions without former preparation, namely impromptu. In the XX century, improvisation became one of the necessary jazz elements that was characterized by spontaneous music creation in the process of the performance.
The show started with Alex Weitz’s playing “Equilibrium”. The composition started slowly and then it changed into vague fluctuations of unstrained notes. In the course of time, all the musicians joined the relaxed motif of saxophone playing. The consonance of saxophone accompanied by drums, bass guitar, trumpet, and pleasant singing formed a colorful mix of jazz beats. In fact, all the music pieces such as “Depridation”, “Lo Hiya Velo Hiye” and others were played in the same manner when all the bandsmen performed their part ideally and could improvise perfectly as well. Therefore, the comping was marvelous. Apparently, the most exciting moment was when the pianist Tal Cohen accompanied while the trumpeter and bassist were playing and soloist singing. The absorbing tunes of the melodies and countermelodies impressed the audience that applauded loudly after every performance. In fact, there was a moment when musicians tuned their instruments, something went wrong, and they made funny faces and tried again. However, every single musician coped with their task at this concert brilliantly. They have demonstrated the high level of their musical skills and improvising since they were well-prepared for the show. A pianist and guitarist were alternatively comping at the same time. However, it is difficult to do well with two chord computer tools at the same time. In fact, two compers could make another clash of interpretations of the same chord; therefore, the pianist added a thirteenth flat, while the guitarist played natural in the same accord in almost all compositions.
The experienced drummer accompanied with all three limbs, eliminating his right patterned ride (small drum, large drum, hi-Heth). He was more likely to develop a simple jazz drum pattern and add some “bomb” bass drum notes for added effect. Moreover, with more unusual equipment, the wind instruments (e.g., sax, trumpet, etc.), he comped the melody playing in the background during “Lo Hiya Velo Hiya” or playing a sequence of notes called “Guidelines tone” which outlined the harmonic foundation in “Stay Afloat”. Guideline tone was built for reduction through the guide tones grapphics, usually sharp. For example, in a duet for saxophone and bass, saxophone accompanied bass solo play with the aim of directing signals. During the drum solo, piano accompaniments are often using a predictable pattern rhythmically played chords entitled “hits”. A well-known example is the second half of “Lo Hiya Velo Hiye” with Tal Cohen piano vamp comping for Ewan Hyde drum solo. In piano solo, the pianist performed his melodic lines and solos with his right hand, accompanying the left.
Musicians can use any jazz instrument for comping; however, most educational materials on comping relate to guitar, organ, and piano. In fact, jazz has large-scale harmonic, melodic and rhythmic possibilities and a wide range of tools for chord instruments at musicians’ disposal to support the soloist correctly. Comping musicians know many different types of chords and vocal parts so that they successfully met the soloist’s goal trying to create a mood. Apparently, to maintain some soloists, comper needed to use very simple voicing (e.g., 3rd and 7th chord). However, other soloists were playing in very dense and complex style; thus, compers needed to use altered vocals and additional extension chords. They also re-harmonized chords with regard to the soloist, thereby creating the exchange of ideas between the soloist and comper. Compers demonstrated their brilliant understanding of the soloist’s playing such as Latin or Afro-Cuban rhythms. Moreover, they had the melodic sense based on the knowledge of the vast repertoire of different scales and scalar models to be able to improvise with melodies and countermelodies while accompanying the soloist and fill in the blanks. While accompanying, pianists, organists, and guitarists as if “glued” and that transformed the rhythm section into a single entity. Furthermore, they improvised with solos and melodies and comped in harmony (as did bassist) and in rhythm (as did drummer) with the soloist. By doing this, the comper helped to insure that the group is always at the same level of energy as a solo performer. Talking about Tal Cohen, he is the example of one of the most responsive pianists. Alex Weitz accompanied efficiently, while Ewan Hyde accompanied rarely.