Jazz Ensembles to perform in last concert of the semester


Photo courtesy of Mark Flaherty

LIVE MUSIC — The NMU Jazz Band performing at the direction of Mark Flaherty, head of the department of music, at a previous NMU Jazz Ensembles concert. Both the NMU Jazz Band and three combos will be performing in their last concert of the fall semester this Wednesday.

Andie Balenger

The NMU Jazz Ensembles will be performing in their second concert of the fall semester this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Reynolds Recital Hall.

This concert will feature the NMU Jazz Band, a full-size big bang complete with both a rhythm section and a full section of horns, along with three smaller combos. The jazz combos will start off the concert with two songs each — some of which are originals. The NMU Jazz Band will close out the show with four compositions.

While there is not a specific theme of the repertoire being performed, Mark Flaherty, head of the music department, said that this concert will instead feature a variety of stylings.

“In the big band program, there is everything from swing-type stuff to another piece that is … actually a Radiohead tune,” Flaherty said. “There is really a wide range of stuff you’ll hear there.”

The NMU Jazz Ensembles last hosted a concert on Oct. 6 of this semester. Those performing in Wednesday night’s show have been preparing for the past five to six weeks.

From a musical standpoint, the sound of the NMU Jazz Band will be similar to the bands at large during the Swing Era, like the Glenn Miller Band or Duke Ellington Orchestra. Meanwhile, the combos will feature fewer musicians and more improvisation.

“An important element of jazz is improvisation,” Flaherty said. “In working with jazz bands or jazz combos, I think it is very gratifying to see students get more comfortable in that setting where they are able to play musically and get confidant enough to trust their instincts and communicate with people through music.”

Although Wednesday night’s program is the last for the NMU Jazz Ensembles for this semester, Flaherty said that combos are often called upon to perform at various events on campus. 

The winter semester has plenty in store for those looking to attend a jazz concert, including the annual NMU Jazz Festival. The educational event will feature Dean Sorenson, a trombonist, composer and arranger hailing from the University of Minnesota, from March 22-24 of 2023.

“Jazz really is a very unique American music,” Flaherty said. “It’s this art form that comes directly out of this country and so much of our popular music springs from, so it’s really worth checking out and finding out what it is all about.”