The concert I attended was the Jazz Showcase in Rudder Theatre on Monday June21, 2004 at 7:30 p.m.
Rudder Theatre is a large venue for this Jazz Showcase. There are five sections with fifteen rows deep in each section. The theatre is decorated modestly with solid colors and nothing too spectacular or eye catching. The chairs were covered in a yellowish fabric. The initial backdrop behind the stage was a white backdrop with red and blue lighting. This backdrop would change colors throughout the concert. Located at the doors were ushers with programs detailing the Texas Music Festival. The seats inside were not assigned but on a first come first serve basis. Seated in the very front and centered to the audience were the performers. The stage was set up with five chairs lined up three rows back. Each row was more elevated than the previous. The piano was at the far left, the guitar and bass were next to the piano, and the drums were in the back. The first row of chairs included the saxophone players, the second row were the trombone players, and the trumpet players were in the third and last row.
The audience, for the most part, seemed to be made up of college students attending for the same reasons as myself. However, there were some audience members who are part of older age groups in the audience. They were there only seeking a good performance and a great time. These older age group audience members were located mostly in the center section of the theatre seated in the first few rows. The dress was more casual among the students but dressier for the older people. Some people were in jeans and a T-shirt, including myself, while some wore nice clothes. The audience rewarded each soloist with a warm ovation of applause after their turn was finished. This led me to believe the audience enjoyed the performance and was very respectable to the performers.
I counted nineteen total performers with occasionally two others and a vocalist. Each performer was dressed in black pants and a black shirt except one who showed up late. He was wearing blue jeans and a sports coat and he definitely stood out from all the others. The performers related very well with the audience. Each acknowledged the audience after applauses and there was a narrator between pieces. There was a lot of humor among the performers and they seemed to enjoy playing with each other. You could tell they had played together many times before this concert. In relation to their instruments, the performers played them very eloquently, especially during the solos.
Way Out Basie: This was the opening piece the performers immediately began playing on they came on stage. It was a very nice piece and a great selection to start the concert.
A Widow’s Tale: It began with just the piano and a trumpet playing a solo in the background. Eventually the other instruments joined in.
It’s Me: The stage and background changed to red from the stage lights. The melody seemed faster pace and upbeat. This was a very energetic piece.
88Basie Street: This piece was very laid back and slower. It gave me an easy feeling. The tone was softer and the piece started with just the rhythm section playing (guitar, piano, bass and drums). After a guitar solo, others followed in playing.
O’Ryan: I’m not sure if this was the correct name for the piece but it’s what I thought I heard. This piece was composed by a member of the performers, Aaron Lington. He played saxophone in the band. It sounded, to me, like it was in triple meter for most of the piece. Yvonne Washington was the vocalist behind the music. She was very spirited and had a nice voice.
It’s You or No One: Yvonne Washington was the vocalist again. The piece had a faster pace and it was very loud. There was a catchy beat.
Someone’s Song: Composed by Eddie Lewis, a trumpet player in the band. It was much slower and mellow. The blue lights came out to set the slower tempo and mood.
A Child’s Dance: Composed by Aaron Lington. Kind of slow starting, but it picked up the pace and tempo toward the end and became much faster and livelier.
Badly: This piece paid tribute to Duke Ellington. It was a very nice piece, but unfortunately I had to leave during this piece because I had to return to work so I didn’t get listen to much of it or any songs after that.
The involvement and intensity of the performance was very high. The performers interacted with the audience and each other. You could sense that they were genuinely enjoying playing their instruments and each other and this observation never lacked throughout the concert. The pacing of the selections seemed appropriate. No piece sounded like the one before it. There was a great variety of songs played. There were songs played that were written by famous jazz composers and songs played that were written by some of the performers themselves. This added to the excitement of the show.
I enjoyed this concert. It was my first real experience with jazz music. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect, but I left satisfied that I attended. However, there was one thing I did not enjoy. The narrator between songs was not very effective and actually took away somewhat from the concert. He failed numerous times at trying to be humorous and rambled on. My favorite piece was 88 Basie Street. It gave me that easy and relaxed feeling. This piece started softer, and then seemed to pick up with more energy. With my lack of knowledge of Jazz music, I certainly enjoyed this piece the best. I learned how exciting and fun listening to jazz being played live can actually be. I found it very interesting. Like I said earlier, the only thing I would change to make the concert more effective would be to have the narrator speak less.