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Jazz concert brings musicians together

March 31, 2011

By STEVEN NALLEY
citybeat@bellsouth.net

Mississippi State University’s Jazz Ensemble will perform a spring concert at McComas Hall on Monday at 7:30 p.m.
The program will also include performances by a Dixieland ensemble and a jazz quintet, both also part of MSU’s music program. Clifton Taylor, associate director of bands at MSU and director of the Jazz Ensemble, said these additions distinguished the spring concert from other performances the Jazz Ensemble has staged this semester.
“We try to present things from every era,” Taylor said. “The dixieland group that’s playing, that’s music from the earliest 20th century, when jazz music was at its infancy.”
Sheri Falcone, an instructor in MSU’s music department, directs the Dixieland ensemble appearing in the spring concert. The Dixieland ensemble is a fairly recent invention, she said, one she was passionate about starting.
“I wanted my clarinet players to have a chance to play some jazz,” Falcone said. “Here’s the funny thing; we started it late this semester, about a month and a half ago.”
Falcone said she was surprised to discover just how many students shared her passion for Dixieland music. Their first live performance was in conjunction with one student’s senior recital, she said, and their performance of Louis Armstrong’s “St. James Infirmiary” for the spring concert will only be their second live performance.
“We had some community folks come up to me after my student’s senior recital, and they asked if we could get this going more in the community,” Falcone said. “I’m ecstatic; I’m thinking it’ll be great. It’s another chance for these kids to perform live again, in front of a bigger crowd, too.”
Taylor said the Jazz Ensemble would also perform swing music from the 30’s and 40’s that audiences typically associate with jazz, as well as adaptations of songs that weren’t originally written as jazz.
“For example, we’re going to be doing “What a Wonderful World,” which was popular in the ’70s,” Taylor said. “We also do some styles of music that are in Latin style or Afro-Cuban style. A couple pieces we’ll do on the program are in blues styles. We’ll have a couple of rock pieces and funk music as well.”
Taylor said even audiences unfamiliar with jazz history would not regret attending this concert. Jazz music is a uniquely American experience, more so than most other genres, he said.
“It’s America’s classical music,” Taylor said. “Now it’s loved worldwide, but it’s our music.”
He also said jazz concerts distinguished themselves from other instrumental concerts by being less stringent.
“Jazz concerts typically aren’t the kind where you have to be very quiet and save your applause to the end,” Taylor said. “People can be more active and even dance in the aisles if they want.”

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