For Webster’s Black History Month concert, drummer Nick Savage, a former Webster grad student, compiled musical selections to honor jazz drummer, Alan Dawson Feb. 8. Dawson was in Booker Ervin’s band that came to fame around the 1960s. According to Savage, Dawson, as well as Ervin were among some of the leading jazz figures in all of American history, and happened to be African American.
“I wanted to kind of dedicate or tribute this performance to him as he was one of the last drummers and leading pioneers that I was able to study while in grad school here at Webster,” Savage said.
Philip Graves, the pianist of the quartet, was excited about performing at the Winifred Moore Auditorium. He thought it was special being back at his alma mater with his past classmates and professor, being featured on a major jazz concert.
“I’m looking forward to a great show, just to sit back to enjoy and listen to each other,” Graves said. “Really connecting with the band members and connecting with the audience too.”
Graves performed Mon. night in Webster’s Black History Month jazz concert. According to Graves, Ervin’s music really spoke to the social issues that were going on at the time.
“A lot of black jazz artists at the time wrote tunes based upon how they felt, they wrote tunes based on social issues, and also it was a way of expressing themselves,” Graves said. “Having a type of release from the outside world.”
Graves, Savage and bassist Ben Wheeler were classmates together when they studied at Webster. Paul DeMarinis, one of the group’s instructors, played tenor saxophone. They were able to share the stage with their professor for the first time as a group after just one rehearsal the day before the performance.
“I’m looking forward to see the magic that happens,” Savage said. “Whenever we’re able to build and communicate, a certain amount of chemistry happens and it’s pretty awesome to see on stage I think as an audience member, but it’s awesome to really be in the real experience and actually feel it and all of the energy.”
Freshman Quinton Stewart, who is majoring in jazz and music technology, attended the concert because he knows Graves and DeMarinis is his instructor.
“I thought it would be a good concert,” Stewart said. “Nick is bringing jazz into the now, the millennium.”