On a wet, chilly night, the intimate surroundings of the Blue Door Theatre offered the perfect setting for the warm tones and lively rhythms generated by the Lane Faculty Jazz Band on May 27.
The musicianship of these teachers is clearly on par with any professional jazz group. The fine acoustics of The Blue Door contributed to the intimate, club-like atmosphere. When I closed my eyes, I could have been back in any of the jazz clubs I used to frequent in New York or London. The only things missing were the smoky blue haze and the sound of clinking glasses from the bar.
Besides being fine players individually, the band members were thoroughly in tune with each other’s playing. Listening closely to each other enabled them to merge into a fully complementary and unified group. Bass and drums coalesced to form the rhythmic foundation which supported the rest of the band.
Their choice of material would satisfy any true jazz-lover. The band led off with “Hum” and “Haig and Haig,” up-tempo swingers with a big band feel, which allowed the band to warm up nicely. Dave Bender played flugelhorn on both tunes. The audience responded positively, enthusiastically applauding solos.
These were followed by a more laid-back and mellow interpretation of a Swedish folk song called “Dear Old Stockholm.” Nate Waddell gave a deeply melodic and swinging bass solo in this tune.
Next came “Bye Bye Blackbird,” featuring an exceptionally nimble guitar solo from Olem Alves, with the horns adding a slight Dixieland feel during their shared improvisation.
“Simone” followed in three-quarter waltz time, giving the audience a change of pace.
The mood then changed completely with the classic 1950s ballad “My Foolish Heart.”
The rich, round tone of Ron Bertucci’s trombone carried the melody, followed by sensitive solos on piano and flugelhorn from Matt Svoboda and Bender. Randy Rollofson showed his subtlety and good taste by using brushes on his drum kit.
After the bright and airy “Summer Running,” which had a more contemporary feel, the performers really hit their stride with the last two tunes of the evening.
First came “Mamacita,” which was a classic example of mid-1960s hard bop with a Latin flavor. This took the energy level up quite a few notches. Rollofson’s drum solo knocked the audience sideways and brought forth large smiles from his bandmates. During this tune, Waddell was virtually dancing with his upright bass.
Paul Krugman, director of the Lane Symphonic Band, was guest trumpeter on the powerful “Black Nile,” to close the show. Alves’s guitar solo sparked truly superb interplay with Rollofson. Then each band member traded fours with Rollofson to end the tune.
The musicians displayed an impressive range of musical emotions and technical skills. With teachers like these, Lane music students are obviously in good hands.