Tribute grooves with jazz ensemble

The Northern Kentucky University Jazz Ensemble performed a tribute concert for military service veterans Sunday evening at the Guys ‘n’ Dolls Restaurant and Nightclub in Cold Spring, Ky. NKU assistant professor and Director of Jazz Studies Brian Hogg organized and directed the event. The proceeds from the performance went to Hogg’s NKU EMPOWER Program and Gordon Brisker Memorial Scholarship Fund.

“The event gives our students in the jazz area a chance to perform functional dance music,” Hogg said, “…and to study a style of jazz ensemble playing not usually featured in concert settings on the university level.”

The concert began with a cocktail with the NKU Jazz Quintet before the jazz ensemble’s two-hour-long portion of the performance got the ball rolling, closing with their powerful rendition of Benny Goodman’s perennial classic, “Sing, Sing, Sing.” Following the jazz ensemble was the debut performance of the In Country Band. The ensemble’s section was the longest running out of the three-part series, which ran until 9 p.m.
Hogg, along with his ensemble, strives to make a difference through jazz music.

“I started the event at a time of protest for several wars and conflicts our nation were involved in,” Hogg said. “Even though many of those conflicts remain, the protests have subsided or changed arenas of discussion.”

The NKU Jazz Ensemble segment featured big band hits of the World War II era. One of the opening pieces was Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade.” The saxophone section, led by clarinets, lifted the song off the ground like a balloon, using silky interludes to carry the music. An audience of over 50 people applauded as the song came to a close. The ensemble didn’t miss a note. The composition that followed, Frank Foster’s “Bass in Yo’ Face,” began with a spider-crawling line of bass notes and raucous, soaring horn section notes that seemed to fly through the room like a fleet of P-51 Mustang fighter jets.

The saxophone section opened the next number: Glenn Miller’s fox-trot hit of the early ‘40s, “In the Mood.” Toe-tapping and finger-snapping caught on like a fever throughout the dimly lit nightclub. A middle-aged couple couldn’t resist hitting the dance floor to swing to the 72-year-old number.

NKU senior saxophone player Trevor Caddell, who has several family members who have served in the armed forces, performed with the NKU Jazz Ensemble.
“Every time you get on stage, you have a performance rush that comes out of nowhere,” Caddell said.