Faddis transports audience back to hey-day of jazz

The skilled trumpet player Jon Faddis filled the Ferst Center with enthusiastic concert-goers eager to hear smooth jazz. Faddis’ show on Feb. 12 did not disappoint, and the two-and-a-half hour show filled all desire to hear the music. The exhaustive show featured many of the jazz standards as well as Duke Ellington’s jazz symphony, “Black, Brown, and Beige.” The nostalgic show showcased Faddis’ own unique style as well as his orchestra.

Jon Faddis is by trade a trumpet player, but also is an accomplished conductor. Sometimes leading the group and sometimes joining in on the musical fun, Faddis is always enthusiastic and energetic. A mentee of Dizzy Gillespie, Faddis has singular control over the high register of his trumpet. He is able to play the extremely high notes Dizzy was famous for. Faddis is a great player at all registers, especially that famous one.

The show was just like any other concert, but it was more relaxed, for both the performers and the audience. Constantly jabbing at late-comers and red-dressed front row attendees, Faddis perpetuated an air of relaxed enjoyment. The performers interacted and reacted with the audience and disregarded the distinct delineation between concert-goer and concert-performer. The band would even call out to soloists or each other as they played soulful passages of music.

The most standout piece the group performed was Ellington’s “Black, Brown, and Beige,” which he composed as his premiere concert at Carnegie Hall, where Faddis led the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band for 10 years. The symphony is divided into three movements, Black, Brown and Beige. Black, the first movement, is divided into three parts, the Work Song, the spiritual Come Sunday, and Light. Brown has three parts, West Indian Dance/Influence; Emancipation Celebration and the blues. Beige depicts the African American of the 1920s, 30s and World War II. In addition to Black, Brown, and Beige, the jazz orchestra performed a number of standards featuring a rotation of guests.

The turnout and enthusiasm of the crowd was refreshing. Jazz music is both easy and hard to come by these days.  There seem to be plenty of part-time musicians playing classics in coffeehouses, but actual jazz bands almost have to be hunted down.  Jazz has lost its allure to pop culture and has fallen by the wayside as a novelty from another era.

While the concert was great, it was long and not intended for casual fans. The songs were a little esoteric and lengthy. Someone who may have only gone to tag along with a loved one would have been bored. The general atmosphere of the jazz music, while intoxicating, may not keep all under its spell forever. Only those who knew what they were getting into were there, and appreciated the show all the more for it.

The concert was great from the music and the skill to the casual mood. With closed eyes, the heyday of jazz is easy to feel. Faddis’ virtuosic playing was mesmerizing. The visceral nature of jazz makes for a time-bending experience excellently executed.

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