Music professors celebrate early 1960’s jazz

Professor Paul DeMarinis plays the saxophone on the Winifred-Moore stage on Sept. 12. The ensemble performed jazz classics from 1961. PHOTO BY BRITTANY RUESS/ The Journal

Webster University’s Department of Music presented its first jazz concert titled, “It Was a Very Good Year: Great Jazz Recordings of 1961.” The concert was a 50th-anniversary concert featuring recreation of important jazz recordings from that year.

The concert was held in the Winifred-Moore Auditorium Sept. 12.

The Webster Jazz Faculty Ensemble includes Debby Lennon (vocals), Keith Moyer (trumpet), Paul DeMarinis (saxophone), Steve Schenkel (guitar), Kim Portnoy (piano), Willem Von Hornbracht (bass) and Kevin Gianino (drums).

“The greatest era for jazz was 1961. So much historical culture of the music and there were so many influential musicians at that time,” Lennon said. “It was definitely a very good year for music.”

DeMarinis, director for the jazz program, and Schenkel collaborated and listened to jazz albums and created a list of the songs. They looked at different tunes to offer diversity of sound.

Before performing, DeMarinis opened a brief history of the jazz era.

“In 1961 it proved to be definitive source for musicians at the edge of the new jazz frontiers of the early 1960s,” DeMarinis said. “The road ahead for jazz was in part, defined by three parallel and sometimes interconnecting paths: hard bop, modalism and free jazz.”

The faculty performed jazz classics such as, “I’m Just a Lucky So and So” by Duke Ellington and Mack David, “The Old Country” by Nat Adderley and Curtis Lewis and “Stolen Moments” by Oliver Nelson and Mark Murphy.

“I chose these songs because they’re substantial and fun to play. And they were different from one another,” DeMarinis said. “It gave the opportunity for everyone in the group to be featured one way or another.”

The group was pleased with the amount of people who attended to see them perform.

The group received a standing ovation when they played “Uh Huh,” by Hank Mobley.

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