A Grand Assembly for Swinging Music

Jackie Pisani
Jazz is as American as apple pie, and the New England Jazz Ensemble served up the KO students a savory, hip and inventive rendition of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf as the Goodman Banks Visiting Artist Series on Friday morning. The New England Jazz Ensemble used traditional jazz instruments to convey the character, plot, and story. The instruments denoted the various characters in the tale: wolf (trombone), duck (muted trumpet) cat (bass clarinet), the hunter (drums), the grandfather (bass) and Peter (the entire band).

A hipster, beret-wearing narrator from the band provided a spoken commentary to help illustrate the storyline. His colorful account was rife with jazz slang to enhance the performance: “The wolf went wiggy”, “Don’t cap ‘em” and “You dig.” The band’s performance was tight, high energy and jubilant. After the performance, the students in the audience asked questions about the thought process behind the work. The conductor related that Prokofiev’s original piece, written in 1936, was created to introduce young audiences to the symphony orchestra. To harken back to this intention, the New England Jazz Ensemble wanted to expose jazz to today’s youth and decided to showcase their spin on this work to KO. At the beginning of the assembly, the conductor asked the students to raise their hands if they liked jazz. Several students raised their hands, and the conductor jokingly commented that the total population that likes jazz was assembled in the Roberts Auditorium. The concert ended with a hand-clapping, toe-tapping, finger-snapping “It’s a Grand Night for Swinging Music.”

In the morning, two clinicians from the band workshopped with the Upper School jazz combo and then workshopped with the Middle School jazz band in the afternoon. During the afternoon session, the jazz musicians worked with each section of the band that included electric guitars, drum/cymbals, keyboard, clarinet, trombone, and saxophone on beats, rhythm, baseline. Afterward, the individual students or small groups played solos and then collaborated to play Blue Seven as a full group.

The conductor stated that through KO’s arts program one should “find your creative spark to create the world you want to make.”

Located in West Hartford, CT just steps from Blue Back Square, Kingswood Oxford is a private school inspiring co-ed day students in grades 6-12 with a college preparatory curriculum. Empowered students become clear confident communicators, resourceful problem-solvers, and ethical leaders. KO: where unlimited potential meets endless opportunities.
Copyright 2018. Kingswood Oxford.