Brent Wallarab leads student jazz ensemble Monday

Guitar player Matt MacDougal from the Brent Wallarab Jazz Ensemble plays a solo during the song "Creep" on Monday evening at the Musical Arts Center. The song was arranged by Alexandra Signor.

Guitar player Matt MacDougal from the Brent Wallarab Jazz Ensemble plays a solo during the song “Creep” on Monday evening at the Musical Arts Center. The song was arranged by Alexandra Signor.

By Carolyn Crowcroft

 

The melodies of Burt Bacharach and Radiohead don’t often mix together, but Brent Wallarab Jazz Ensemble makes it work.

The group, led for the second year by Associate Professor of Music Wallarab, performed its first concert of the year at 8 p.m. at the Musical Arts Center.

Wallarab, who teaches many musical arranging and composition classes at the Jacobs School of Music, featured original pieces composed by students in the group.

Wallarab said he encourages his students to expose their work in the ensemble.

“I’m grateful to use this as a venue to showcase their talent and get their feet wet,” he said.

Wallarab said the students can benefit from working their pieces with a group after composing.

“They grow not just by hearing their music live, but by working it and tweaking it,” Wallarab said.

The ensemble rehearses three times a week and took three weeks to prepare for the Monday night concert.

In addition to original student works, the concert featured Radiohead’s “Creep,” arranged for jazz ensemble by Alexandra Signor and “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by Hal David and Burt Bacharach.

Senior and drummer Mitch Shiner composed “6:20 Shuffle” and arranged “Raindrops.” Shiner said he has enjoyed the opportunity to work outside of the norms of jazz music.

“Jazz isn’t all about going into a dark, smoky club,” he said. “It’s about
experimenting.”

Master’s student and guitarist Matt MacDougall also worked on an arrangement of Dave Brubeck’s “Three to Get Ready.” MacDougall said Wallarab has worked to get something new out of his students.

“He’s taken the band in a unique direction that a lot of universities aren’t taking,” he said.

Shiner said the group has worked to make the show as high energy as possible, and proof of that can been.

“There’s not a soft spot in the show,” he said. “We prepared really well for it.”

Wallarab said he hopes the ensemble is able to take the audience to a happier place, if only for the length of the program.

“I want (the musicians) to communicate a wide variety of moods and varieties and textures and connect with the audience,” he said.

Follow reporter Carolyn Crowcroft on Twitter @carol_crowcroft.

© Indiana Daily Student 2013

 

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