Jazz, classical faculty collaborate with Traux

On Feb. 26, students and faculty assembled in the Esch Hurvis Studio to join Sumner Truax ’12 in a collaborative recital. Truax joined the Lawrence Saxophone faculty this academic year.

Truax invited Associate Professor of Violin Samantha George, Instructor of Jazz Saxophone José Encarnacíon, Professor of Music Steven Jordheim, Associate Professor of Music Michael Mizrahi, junior Shasta Tresan and super senior Joe Connor in the performance of five different works. Truax explained that each piece included in the recital was connected in both elements of American origin and Lawrence affiliation.

The first and last pieces, “Carolina Shout” and “Black Bottom Stomp,” were arranged by former Kimberly-Clark Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies and Improvisational Music Professor Fred Sturm, who passed in 2014. Sturm devoted 37 years of teaching to Lawrence University and Eastman School of Music, and left behind—in addition to his legacy—arrangements such as these.

Both “Carolina Shout” and “Black Bottom Stomp” were charming, jazzy ditties, sure to have brought a smile to everyone listening in Esch Hurvis that night. These musical choices represented a well-rounded beginning and end, and provided a thoughtful tribute to Sturm—an educator who truly left his mark on all who knew him.

Truax continued his program with a piece called “Greensilver” by Evan Chambers. Connor played with Truax in this quirky, atmospheric duet. Both Truax and Connor did exceedingly well in sections of unison, and were completely in sync in movement and in musicality. Chambers visited Lawrence as part of the Conservatory’s “New Music Series” in 2013.

Mizrahi accompanied Truax in Baljinder Sekhon’s “Sonata of Puzzles,” a work in three movements. Truax displayed his mastery of technique in the clicks, pops and wacky, nervous energy this piece demanded. The Lawrence University Saxophone Studio commissioned this work in 2015.

Truax was then joined by George in another work by Chambers entitled “Come Down Heavy”—a work inspired by folk spirituals. As always, George’s stage presence was electric, and it was refreshing to hear her play something outside of the classical realm. The second movement of the piece truly captivated the audience, as its fiddle-inspired musings kept them still in their seats. The fourth movement’s high energy entranced them just the same.

Truax constructed a program that was enjoyable, sincere and complete. The Lawrence community looks forward to what program Truax may come up with next.