WSU Jazz Arts Ensemble to feature guest performer

While drawing inspiration from the Great Plains and traditional Latin tunes, saxophonist Arthur White will take the stage at Wichita State for the annual Jazz Arts Ensemble and Banda Hispanica performance, which started Wednesday and ends Thursday night.

White is the director of Jazz Studies and associate professor of music at the University of Missouri.

White arranged all of the music the jazz ensemble will perform Thursday, said Geoffrey Deibel, assistant professor of saxophone and Jazz Studies and director of the ensemble at WSU.

Sponsored by the School of Music, the Jazz Arts Ensemble performance is from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday in Miller Concert Hall.

The 19-piece Jazz Arts Ensemble features trumpets, trombones, saxophones, a drum set, piano and bass guitar. Musicians audition for the ensemble, and it is part of the jazz studies curriculum, and the ensemble puts on two concerts per semester.

According to the School of Music’s website, the repertoire of the ensemble consists of high-level arrangements of varying styles, including swing, Latin, rock, pop and new compositions.

Deibel said each year the ensemble features one guest performer’s arrangements.

This year, White was chosen because of his original compositions, which draw from various inspirations.

“His music is really interesting,” he said. “Being from the Great Plains, he takes a lot of themes that sort of emulate that expansiveness with lots of open intervals, very lush sounding music — it’s really listener friendly and really enjoyable stuff.”

He said White also gains inspiration from Latin styling, such as salsa and meringue, and the night will be full of Latin influence.

He said White isn’t the only artist who is trying out more contemporary arrangements. Artists are commonly taking inspiration from pop artists.

“We’ve done some arrangements of Radiohead songs in the past,” he said. “That’s kind of a trend in jazz — people are bringing more pop influences into jazz by putting a jazz spin on it, like a slightly more complex chord. There are professional big bands out there, but we try to be innovative in terms of the music that we perform. We try to keep it fresh.”

Freshman Mike Dawson, a second trombone player in the jazz ensemble, said he enjoys the ensemble because it’s fun music.

“[People] should expect to hear some good music, good players and some solos,” he said.

Dawson said the song “Cats and Kittens” is his favorite to perform for this ensemble concert.

“It sounds cool,” he said. “It’s got a really fun energy to it.”

Deibel said he thinks the concert will be great. He said he is amazed that White and his ensemble can come together and put on a show any given day.

“The thing about jazz is that it’s a language that we can all learn, and even though [White] lives in Missouri, he can just come in one day, and we can do a concert,” he said. “We have been rehearsing and getting his music ready, and students have been learning it and doing a great job and putting in a lot of hard work.”

Tickets cost $7 for general admission and $3 for students with Shocker IDs. For more information, contact the School of Music , Jazz Studies at 316-978-6170.