By Elena Ender
While some students were off dancing at Les Femmes on Nov. 14, a crowd of 135 people packed into Munson Recital Hall to groove to the APU Jazz Ensemble’s first major concert of the year. This performance was unique because alongside the band of 22 students, one professional musician took the stage – featured trombonist and vocalist Scott Whitfield.
Whitfield has worked with a number of contemporary big bands and has recently released his newest album, “Solitary Moon” with his vocalist partner, Ginger Berglund. His musical history with the director of the APU Jazz Ensemble, David Beatty, brought him to the Munson stage.
“We keep in touch, and he had the idea to bring me in as a guest artist, and of course I said, ‘Yes, I’d love to.’ And what a great band! Wow. What a great program,” said Whitfield.
The ensemble received Whitfield’s song selections weeks before the performance, then finally had the first and only rehearsal with him Thursday, Nov. 13.
“They seem to get it. They seem to get the stylistic requirements and they seem to get the professional-level work ethic,” said Whitfield about ensemble performers. This made the collaboration smooth from rehearsal to performance, he added.
The APU group played 11 songs with its own distinct style of jazz, including swing, Latin, rock, bee-bop and lyrical ballads. One piece, “Bocetos Costeras Mediterraneas,” was composed by Jeff Tower specifically for the ensemble. The performance at this concert was its world premiere.
“That piece was a bear to prepare, but it was very, very rewarding,” said junior music education trumpet player Brian Cerjak.
Not only was that song technically challenging, the jazz ensemble had no one else’s performance to compare with regarding questions of style, which made it that much harder.
“Hours upon hours of shedding, just like any other performance,” said Cerjak in reference to the preparation for the concert as a whole.
The time commitment leading up to the concert was extensive, but nothing is quite like the event itself. “Performance is always more than equivalent to a whole bunch of rehearsals,” said Director David Beatty.
Whitfield, Cerjak and other musicians on stage could not choose a particular moment of the concert that stood out to them. They expressed that the experience as a whole was most favored. However, audience member and freshman commercial music major Devin Walker said that his favorite part of the concert was “hearing Scott Whitfield play trombone like a god.”
The concert itself lasted just short of two hours, beginning with a swing chart and ending with roaring applause.
The APU Jazz Ensemble will host “APU Jazz Combos” in Munson Nov. 24 at 8 p.m.
Whitfield’s new album is available for purchase through his website: www.officialgingerandscott.com.