[This was a paper written by an actual student in the Popular Music in America class. It is not offered as an award-winning review nor is it compositionally error-free. It did, however, receive an A for this assignment and is an example of the level of writing and analysis that is required to receive an A. Please do not, however, begin your paper in exactly the same way or attempt to copy “buzz words” or phrases. Write your own paper!]
On February 17, 2005, the Jazz Ensemble at Tarleton State University had their first concert of the spring semester with special guest trumpeter, Daryl White. The jazz ensembles collectively performed thirteen pieces during the concert. “Fly Me to the Moon”, “Waltz for Debby” and “Ancient Memories” were three stylistically different pieces that allowed the audience to experience the various sounds of jazz music. Jazz music, like all music, tells a story and here are the stories of “Fly Me to the Moon”, “Waltz for Debby” and “Ancient Memories”.
“Fly Me to the Moon”, written by Bart Howard and arranged by Sammy Nestico, is an upbeat standard sung most famously by Frank Sinatra. In the instrumental version of this song, a Latin-inspired sounding consonance set the romantic mood at the beginning of this song. A piano and saxophone then alternated the melody of the song as though they were dancing like two lovers flying to the moon. As the passion of the song heated up, the texture changed within the song as the saxophone took the melody and the piano and other instruments within the ensemble were in accompaniment. The rhythm, which was continuously steady seemed to get faster like a heart beat by the climax of the song. It was also at this point that the dynamics of the song were increasingly getting louder until all instruments met at the top with a bang and then changed the dynamics again to a moderate level until the song concluded.
“Waltz for Debby”, written by Bill Evans and arranged by Don Sebesky, was a consonant, slow-beat waltz. The texture of this piece remained the same through its entirety and the 1,2,3 pattern was also very noticeably throughout the piece as well. The saxophone, trumpet and electric guitar took turns at the melody and did so through this performance in the form of solos. The dynamics throughout this song were soft and then increased to a moderate level before a decrescendo to a softer level once again. The ensemble did a fabulous job of keeping with the beat.
“Ancient Memories”, by Fred Hamilton and arranged by Paul Ferguson, was played the night of the concert by guest trumpeter, Darryl White. Mr. White played this song because it is the title track on his 1999 album, also called “Ancient Memories”. Mr. White is a professor of trumpet at the University of Nebraska. This piece began by having very dissonant tones within the harmony with the introduction of a piano and drums. The song then changed into a more consonant harmony, which remained throughout the rest of the song. The texture of this song was polyphonic between the trumpet and the piano. The melody of this song was bright and happy in some places within the song and more cool and relaxing in other parts as the tempo changed and the notes of the trumpet were held for emphasis. There were many dynamics used within this song. The song began with a crescendo from very soft to very loud and then remained in this pattern until the end when the pattern was reversed.
“Fly Me to the Moon” was for me a song of romance from the time the first note began. The song was passionate and sexy and displayed dialogue without using any words. The ensemble played this piece with steadiness and the solo by Cassi Lee provided the extended dialogue that sounded like dancing and twirling in the moonlight. This song reminded me of “My Heart Will Go On” in that the instrumental nature of it tells a story, just as much as when Celine Dion is singing the lyrics. I found listening to this song a worthwhile experience and it was a fantastic beginning to the jazz concert in that it was familiar to the audience.
“Waltz for Debby’ made me wonder who Debby was and why someone would write such an old-sounding song for someone they loved. The song was very pretty, but it was of a different genre than that of the other pieces within the concert. It is honestly hard for me to recommend this song to anyone, for I thought it was dull and lacked the depth of the other songs throughout the evening.
“Ancient Memories” was a beautiful piece. I am not sure what I enjoyed more, the fact that Mr. White played with such passion and made the song his own life force or that this piece reminded me of my childhood. This piece reminded me of something Bill Cosby would have on the Cosby Show in one of the jazz clubs. The song was fun and although the song had a lot of repetition, I loved listening to the changes over and over again.
The Jazz Ensemble concert at Tarleton was an enjoyable evening full of great music and intellectually stimulating experiences of music that I would not have listened to if not for this assignment. Diversification is an important lesson to learn when viewing music because all music has roots from another genre and recognizing this makes you more diversified as an individual.