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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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University Jazz Ensembles showcases students’ groovy musical talents

Photo by Photo by Michaela Rush

Texas A&M’s student jazz ensemble performed their final concert of the semester on Sunday, Nov. 21 with a holiday-themed music selection. 

Brass, saxes, drums, guitars and pianos owned the night as hard-hitting jazz tunes and mellow ballads were heard coming out of Rudder Theatre, where the University Jazz Ensembles held their first concert of the semester. 

The concert, filled with performances from Texas A&M’s two jazz bands, was directed by Christopher Hollar of the Department of Musical Activities and took place on Friday, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m. 

As the cool lights dimmed, Hollar stepped out onto the stage and kicked the show off immediately with upbeat and colorful jazz tunes. Swing, Latin, quick-tempo, rhythm-heavy, cool and brassy sounds filled the air as a variety of songs with a variety of energies were played.

The 502 Jazz lab were first to play and perform music of all genres. The song “Feather Report,” written by Kris Berg, was especially funky, and showcased a smooth solo from tenor saxophone player and industrial engineering junior Brad Medlock, whose final note soared perfectly into the beginning of a spicy guitar solo, performed by political science freshman Riley Bailey.

The song “It Had Better be Tonight,” written by Henry Mancini, was a smokey Latin piece, and featured a vocal performance from business administration freshman Aria Hamilton, which had such booming energy that it rang throughout the air of the theater. 

Standing out among their performance was the Gordon Goodwin tune, “The Very Best of Times,” in which the muted brass section produced a hazy and relaxed vibe for a piano solo from economics senior Takeshi Komar, which had a uniquely characterful tone.

After a quick intermission, the Jazz 501 band emerged onto the stage and performed their set, which brought even more color to the night. 

The song “This is the Moment,” by Sammy Nestico, was another mellow tune where muted trombones and flugelhorns produced a solacing atmosphere. This served as the background for a beautifully laid-back and melodic solo from trumpet player and visualization sophomore Melanie Schwartz. 

Their next song, “Black Orpheus,” from Luiz Bonfa and Eric Richards, blew up off the stage with cinematic style. The music was adventurous and showcased a hard-hitting soprano saxophone solo from environmental design senior Aren Moore.

“Moon River,” written by Henry Mancini and Billy Byers, began as an easygoing tune, but quickly transitioned with bigger and louder energy. The trombones glided their slides about and the trumpets screamed with ferocity in a large-scale, swing song. 

The concert ended with “Ya Gotta Try Harder”, by Sammy Nestico and Quincy Jones. This brassy piece ended the night with a banger, as well as an expressive and soulful solo from pianist electronic systems engineering technology junior Mitchell Case.

These seven tunes were just a sample of the jazz that was performed that night, and many more flavorful solos were played by skilled Aggie musicians. Every instrument and every player got their moment to own the stage, and when the soloists weren’t improvising, the bands’ sounds blended into one jazzy voice.

Both bands threw out banger after banger, as the roughly 60-minute performance became a continuous stream of ever-colorful jazz. 

The performance was one among many of the concerts being put on by the A&M Music Department, including the University Orchestras’ concert on Oct. 15 in Rudder Auditorium, and the Century Singers concert on Oct. 16 in Rudder Theatre. 

Whether you don’t know the first thing about jazz or you’ve heard and analyzed every single Miles Davis solo ever played, the concerts from the University Jazz Ensembles are enjoyable for all, and made for an exciting night. 
The Jazz Ensembles can be heard again at Rudder Theatre on Sunday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m. For a full calendar of all of the Music Activities Department’s events, visit

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