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Arts and Entertainment

MSU Jazz Ensembles to Play Two Concerts

(Photo courtesy Missouri State University Music Department)

Missouri State University Music Professor Randy Hamm serves as Woodwind Coordinator for the Music Department, and directs the Jazz Studies Program.  He's also a noted jazz saxophonist in his own right, and hosts KSMU's weekly Journey Into Jazz program.  His jazz students will present a pair of concerts this month on campus, on consecutive Tuesdays.

The first concert is Tuesday November 10 at 7:30 pm in the Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts, and will feature the MSU Jazz Studies Ensembles I and II. "Those are the large ensembles, the big bands of the program. The students are playing fantastic, and we're doing some great music," says Randy Hamm.  He calls Jazz Studies Ensemble I "the flagship ensemble of our program: 17 or 18 pieces. We've got five woodwinds in the saxophone section; four trombones; four trumpets--which is kind of the standard big band--and piano, bass, drums, guitar." Randy himself leads this group. MSU Assistant Professor Dr. Jason Hausback leads the Jazz Studies Ensemble II, which features the same big-band compliment of horns as Ensemble I, but a slightly different rhythm section.  It sports a vibraphone player instead of a guitarist, "so that gives a little bit different tonal color and texture to the ensemble."

The following Tuesday, November 17, again at 7:30 pm but this time in Ellis Recital Hall, there is another MSU Jazz Studies concert, featuring small-group jazz from the MSU Jazz Symposium. Randy Hamm says this program "focuses more on the improvisation aspect of jazz education rather than ensemble playing" as in the big bands.  "And we've got three ensembles this semester: three fantastic rhythm sections, and their groups are quartet, quintet, septet. They'll be doing some jazz standards--a lot of the standards come from musical theatre (songs), and improvising over 2-5-1 bass lines, which is really the backbone of bebop. There's more communication between the rhythm section players and the soloists. Of course musicians always need to listen to what's going on around them, but it's more intense in this more intimate setting."

As we said, you can hear Randy Hamm hosting KSMU's Journey Into Jazz show every Thursday evening at 11:00 pm. "I really enjoy doing the show.  I think it's been about seven years that I started (it). And that was at the beginning of the time when we started drawing up the degree program for the Jazz Studies Program. So it's been a great 5, 6, 7 years of getting this program going, and things are going fantastic.  So we hope everybody can come out the next two Tuesdays and hear these students, as they're doing some great work."

Both concerts are free and open to the public.