Jazz Combo Rehearsal, University of Delaware

In Albums: people music

A jazz ensemble on stage, practicing

Sep 14th, 2006, by Alex Zorach

This photo shows a small jazz combo at the University of Delaware. I played piano in this ensemble for one semester, when I was a grad student in mathematics. Most of the students in the group were undergraduates, and some of them were very talented. There were two pianists in the group, and we would switch off; I liked this setup, as we were able to share ideas and grow as musicians faster than we would have been had one of us been the only pianist in the group.

The director, shown in front of the ensemble, was Vernon James. I was impressed by Vernon James' knowledge of jazz and ability to communicate it. Although piano was not his primary instrument, he frequently was able to give me good guidance and feedback on such detailed things as chord voicings, on the fly, during rehearsal, and I found him to know a lot and have a lot of good ideas. He also had a laid-back, hands-off approach to running the ensemble, allowing us to pursue what we wanted, play the music we were passionate about, and decide on our own how to structure and perform the various tunes we played.

Playing in this ensemble was a great opportunity and is something I am very grateful for having the opportunity to do.