From the Director

Greetings!

Welcome to Infernal Resilience, a testament to this wildly different 20/21 academic year! This Jazz project is an unusually rewarding experience for me, not least because students play a larger role than ever in creating our music, conceptualizing our goals (interdisciplinary! multi-media! multi-genre! pan-participatory!) and articulating personal visions.  Graphic, dance, and documentary artists give communal depth to the whole enterprise and I look forward to seeing this website gradually inhabited by more and more of their work.

Throughout the fall and spring semesters of 2020/21 the rhythm section recorded basic tracks in a distanced manner at The Sound recording studio engineered by producer Mark Graham. The multi-track recording process unfolded in several locations as the wind players produced their tracks in isolation, either at the studio or in their homes or dorm rooms.  The project required a huge effort and learning curve, for all involved. The band expected to release Infernal Resilience at fall semester’s end. However, we saw the need to carry this work forward into the spring semester since conditions at school had not changed. Much more music was recorded, culminating in a hefty release of UVA Jazz and Arts, comprising recordings from eight different groups. 

We now have seven “albums” of recorded music (Find the music and Soundcloud links on the Infernal Resilience page.)  The Jazz Ensemble has completed seventeen pieces, some of which include featured guests: UVa Orchestra principal horn, Katy Ambrose (Heal for Real and Dawn😉 french pianist and future guest artist, Damien Groleau (Dawn) UVa alumni, vocalist Erin Lunsford (Heal For Real) and bassist Kris Monson (Blue Champagne, I Could Take You Dancing, Dawn.) Also included are two stellar, Distinguished Major Projects by vocalist Tina Hashemi, and pianist Thomas Kehoe.

I have been sharing this music with various friends and musicians, including a WTJU Christmas morning show with Brian Keena.  Listeners express amazement that these are students playing and writing this music.  And, I too, am amazed!  The Jazz Ensemble has always comprised an inspired bunch, and this year is special.  Fourth Year drummer/multi-instrumentalist, Peter Wellman, wrote the arrangement to I’ll Fly Away.  Second year guitarist, Michael McNulty wrote I Could Take You Dancing! and Can’t Stop Being In Love. Take the Torch was composed by grad student Rami Stucky to accommodate the spoken-word artistry of fourth year Trey Winn. (They met while Rami was assisting in A.D. Carson’s Rap Lab.)  Thomas Kehoe, fourth year pianist, composed the tunes Bananas, 25, and Rain. Fourth year vocalist, Tina Hashemi, has composed two pieces, Blue Champagne, and Madison Avenue.  She has also shepherded the UVa Jazz Singers, a satellite group to the Jazz Ensemble, who appear on Sensitive Like Ladies and in the “Epilogue,” a stand-alone piece for jazz vocal choir and piano composed by fourth year Joey Rudek: In My Head.

The recordings reveal some major playing talent. Nick Wu on baritone sax, David Sun and Thomas Kehoe, on piano, bassists Ethan Blaser and Ami Falk, alto saxophonist, Matt Angeley, tenor saxophonist, Trent Ogaz, flautists, Mathilde Rosi-Marshall and Cole Smith (a community member and student at Albemarle High School) trombonists, Anna Woltz, Jesse Amoss, and Kathryn Meldrun, guitarists, Michael McNulty and Tyler Burckhardt, all play beautifully on this recording as do the members of the Infernal String Quartet, violinists, Olivia Scheidt and, her teacher, Professor David Sariti, violist, Professor Bonnie Gordon, and Izzy Tucker on cello.

I must mention three people who have made special contributions to the project.  Musicology grad student, Rami Stucky, has played drums and written arrangements for our band for the last five years.  Rami is a natural teacher and collaborator.  He has mentored many of our undergraduates helping them analyze scores and create their own music.  Thanks to him, we have more first-time composer/arrangers in our band than at any other time in the past.  Rami stayed in touch with students through last spring and summer, when the University shut down, and coordinated rigorously, with me, to create the community of musicians and other artists who now contribute to this project.  Even as he has moved to New Mexico, ceding the drum responsibilities to Peter Wellman, he has been a constant presence and guiding hand.

The second person I want to mention, and thank, is our graduated-last-spring lead alto saxophonist of four years, Matthew Angeley.  Matt missed his final Jazz Ensemble concert due to covid restrictions last spring.  He generously agreed to come in on this project, playing lead and second alto parts.  He is featured often on the recording, as he would have been on his final concert.  His solos on I’ll Fly Away, I Could Take You Dancing, and As The World Is Waking, are very strong. 

Last, but not least, (though youngest of the three) I want to thank and extol our lead trumpeter, high school senior and community member, Owen Brown.  Owen is a veteran of Greg Thomas’ (and now, Andrew LaPrade’s) award-winning Albemarle High School Jazz Program, which has bequeathed numerous excellent players to the UVA Jazz Ensemble and the Charlottesville community, over the years. (Matt Angeley is one; Cole Smith is another) Owen is my trumpet student.  But he has taken me to school on work ethic and achieved a professional capacity to truly play lead trumpet.  Allow me to share: I play trumpet and love to improvise.  I do not play lead trumpet.  I play 3rd and 4th in a big band.  That’s where the jazz solos are, and the low notes.  Maynard Ferguson, the stratospheric lead-man and soloist, said, “a great fourth trumpet player is hard to find.”  I aspire to that and, as a result, have been privileged to sit beside some of the greatest lead trumpet players of all time, Jon Faddis, Lou Soloff, Al Porcino, even Snooky Young, once!  I know what a real lead player sounds like.  Owen is one.  Listen for his classic lead sound burnishing these tracks.

Stay tuned for more music to come.  The UVA Jazz Ensemble and the UVA Jazz Program are always recruiting so let us know if you think you need to be a part of this music!

Peace, Wellness, Freedom, and Happiness!

John D’earth