Lenny Pickett's NYU Block Party Band performs at WBGO's performance studio.
Maybe it begins with Dave Brubeck's LP Jazz Goes to College, his 1954 compilation from shows at the University of Michigan, University of Cincinnati and Oberlin College. The message was that students "dig" jazz. Today, they study it with a passion, as you'll hear on this episode of JazzSet.
April, a.k.a. Jazz Appreciation Month, is the penultimate month in the spring semester. WBGO Jazz 88 in Newark takes annual advantage, inviting student ensembles into the studio for an hour on the air. You can't hear the audience clapping, but people are listening. And the musicians are aware — getting a little nervous, giving their best, critiquing their performances after the show.
JazzSet skims some top moments, from orchestrated funk to a vocal standard, an intriguing gospel/samba arrangement and a semi-pro septet that plays original music.
You'll recognize the sound of the first group. The instructor, also a band member, is the musical director of the Saturday Night Live band. As host Dee Dee Bridgewater says, "I'm glad somebody is teaching funk."
NYU Block Party Band
"Soul Vaccination" by Castillo & Kupka, as recorded by Tower of Power
"Cat Daddy" (Lenny Pickett)
"Kathy" (Lenny Pickett)
Instructor: Lenny Pickett. Personnel: James Delano, alto sax; Lenny Pickett, tenor sax; Christian Anderson, baritone sax; Jon Lijoi, trumpet; Brad Gunson, trombone; Frank Cogliano, guitar; Kris Nolte, piano; Alex DaSilva, bass; Miles Arntzen, drums.
Queens College Jazz Ensemble
"Body and Soul" (Heyman, Green, Sour)
Instructor: Antonio Hart, professor of music, Aaron Copland School of Music. Personnel: Mavis Poole, vocal; Laron Land, tenor; Majid Khaliq, violin; David Bertrand, flute; Rafal Sarnecki, guitar; Sebastian Ammann, piano; Hyunwoo Han, bass; Janis Gorlich, drums.
Juilliard Blues In The Church Ensemble
"Goin' Up Yonder" (Traditional, arr. Randall Haywood)
"Old Time Religion" (Traditional)
Instructor: Carl Allen, artistic director of jazz studies at The Juilliard School. Personnel: Jordan Pettay, alto sax; Randall Haywood, trumpet; Willie Applewhite, trombone; Samora Pinderhughes, piano; Clovis Nicolas, bass; Bryan Carter, drums.
Berklee Global Jazz Institute Septet
"Balance" (Hailey Niswanger)
"Conversation" (Matt Halpin)
Instructor: Danilo Perez, artistic director of the BGJI. Personnel: Matthew Halpin, tenor sax; Hailey Niswanger, soprano and alto sax; Andrew Burglass, guitar; Christian Li, piano; Greg Chaplin, bass; Paulo Stagnaro, percussion; Mark Whitfield Jr., drums; Marco Pignataro, managing director.
Simon Rentner coordinated JAM performances at WBGO. Recordings by David Antoine and David Tallacksen with Duke Markos. WBGO host Michael Bourne, executive producer Thurston Briscoe III.