Jazz Singers wrap up season

Hannah Jastram

The Lawrence University Jazz Singers wrapped up their performing season Mon., May 21 with a short program that showcased the many talents of the group.
The 12-person group performed in Stansbury Theatre with the help of director Chris Salerno on the piano, an accompanying rhythm section, and Lee Tomboulian’s Redunkulous Jazztet.
The program was divided between ensemble performances and individual solos, though as senior Daniella Teodoro-Dier pointed out, it was not dominated by solos, as was the winter concert.
Songs included old favorites, such as “L-O-V-E,” arranged by Chris Salerno, and “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.”
The former was embellished with scatting, a frequent addition to the pieces. Scatting was also expertly executed by senior Jesse Weinberg in his solo in “Caravan.”
“Caravan” was an especially difficult piece for the group. “The sopranos and tenors are always a half step apart,” explained sophomore Hesper Juhnke. “There are awkward intervals that are parallel, but nonmelodic.”
“This performance had all of our hardest songs that we’ve really polished through the year,” said sophomore Solveig Smithback. “‘Caravan’ was the most difficult – we’d been working on it all year.”
Commenting on satisfaction in their successful performance, Juhnke said, “The really challenging pieces that we took on made it that much better to get them done.”
As well as singing professionally arranged songs, the group had the opportunity to perform student work. Senior Kristin Tamayo arranged Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” for her lecture-recital earlier this year and came to the stage to conduct the a cappella piece.
Sophomore Jane Hulburt arranged “Ruby, My Dear,” by Thelonious Monk, for a jazz combo. Against a red background and accompanied by the Redunkulous Jazztet, she sang, “I’d rather die / Than say your goodbye.”
Of the students’ work, Salerno said, “It just happened that we could work it into the program.” Their additions to the program highlighted the incredible talent of the group.
Before the last song, Salerno took a moment to recognize graduating seniors Mariel Clemente, Hugh Naughtin and Jesse Weinberg. Without Weinberg, Salerno said, “room 146 will be quite different, I must say.”
“This was an emotional performance,” Smithback said, “because of the seniors leaving.”
As an additional mark of its uniqueness, the concert was held in Stansbury. Junior Schuyler Gardner said, “The acoustics are better in [Stansbury] than in Harper Hall,” where the Jazz Singers have given concerts in the past.
Indeed, the clear and sometimes sultry voices of the soloists filled the space. “You should get this group into a studio,” one audience member said to Salerno.
Near the end of the performance, Salerno invited the audience to Copper Rock on Wednesday to hear more jazz vocals. “Come on down,” she said, “and have a latte.