By Margaret McKinney
The New Mexico Highlands University Jazz Ensemble presents a concert at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the theater of the Student Union Building at National Avenue and Eighth Street.
“This performance space is smaller than most concert halls, and provides a more intimate setting that is often appropriate for jazz performances,” said Edward Harrington, director of bands for Highlands University in the Department of Music.
The program for the concert includes a number of well-known jazz favorites, with improvisation playing an important role in the performance.
“The students are all improving each semester, especially in improvisation. In rehearsals we take apart the underlying scales and chords so that the selection of notes for soloing will be appropriate. In some selections, we participate in providing harmonic support for soloists as well. The goal is that the student musician will be able to internalize the music theory in such a way that improvising becomes an artistic musical expression,” Harrington said.
The musical selections include:
Dennis Montaño, a music education senior, will be soling on trumpet for several pieces, including a jazz arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody.
Raul Castañeda, from Chihuahua, Mexico, solos on alto clarinet on the Latin tune called Invitation.
Amor Romero, a music technology major who plays alto sax, is the featured soloist on When I Fall in Love, a jazz standard.
Graduating senior Quintin Leger is the featured guitar soloist for Birdland, made famous by the jazz band Weather Report.
Michael Rascon solos on bass, and Daniel Sam solos on drums in Hello Dolly, a tune made famous by Louis Armstrong.
Music education major Luis Martínez is also featured in Hello Dolly, playing trumpet.
The concert also features four original works by Kevin Zoernig, a studio-recording pianist, composer, and adjunct music faculty member at Highlands.
“Kevin’s pieces involve lots of improvisation and creative arrangement techniques. Community members Bruce Holmes and June Franklin are participating in the jazz program this year. We’re also happy to include Nathaniel Padilla from Memorial Middle School on tenor saxophone,” Harrington said.
The ticket price for the jazz concert is $5.