MKRTCHYAN | Cornell’s Underground Jazz Culture

Passion for music and love for jazz was in the air when they were improvising on the flow, somehow intuitively understanding each other through the language of music and producing this jazz piece that is doomed to be the one in its way. When improvising, every music piece becomes a unique one-time experience. Through this wiley bunch of college students, I could hear the ruminations of the jazz greats that came before them.

A Jazzy Night at Barnes Hall

Barnes Hall’s auditorium temporarily transformed into a jazz cafe from La La Land on the evening of Thursday, September 27. Producing a fusion of harmonious tones and fascinating improvisation, the Dave Solazzo Trio, with Dave Solazzo on the piano, Mike Solazzo (Dave’s father) playing bass and Tom Killian on the drums, performed a jazz concert that reminded me of the Oscar-winning film. The program started with Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love?” The piece opened with a piano melody, but was quickly joined by the metallic sound of the cymbals on the drum set and supported by a steady beat of deep pizzicatos from the bass. As the tempo of the song sped up or slowed down based on the discretion of whoever was playing the melody, the other members of the trio would match the beat accordingly with extreme precision. This first tune also incorporated solos for both the bassist as well as the drummer, during which the musicians constantly checked in with each other through eye contact and head nods to maintain balance and structured harmony.

Bassists McBride and Meyer Bring the Love to Bailey Hall

The double bass is a perennial fixture of many jazz combos. And yet, how rare to hear it on its own terms. Rarer still in duet with a like partner. The Cornell Concert Series kicked off its spring season by proving that a duo of basses could be more than meets the ear. As twin ramparts of their generation, Christian McBride and Edgar Meyer are as masterful as they come. Where one cut his teeth on the jagged edges of jazz, the other was baptized in classical waters.

No Time to Waste: Conversations with Bassists Christian McBride and Edgar Meyer

For the inaugural Cornell Concert Series performance of 2017, Grammy-winning bassists Christian McBride and Edgar Meyer will take to the stage at Bailey Hall on February 3. Although both musicians helm their respective vessels in nominally different streams, together they have created something as fresh as their foundations are solid. Where McBride is something of a musical chameleon, rooted in the backyard of the blues yet stretching his branches over into every willing neighbor’s property, Meyer has turned his classical wheelhouse into a kaleidoscope of interpretive possibilities. I had the opportunity to speak with both bassists — first to Mr. McBride on the phone, followed by Mr. Meyer via e-mail — as an overture to what promises to be an engaging night from this rare combination of instruments. The Sun: One of my all-time favorites from your discography is Live at Tonic.

SWAN | A Genre Marginalized

The Mingus Big Band is one of several ensembles formed after the death of jazz titan Charles Mingus that dedicates itself to performing and interpreting the canon of the late composer’s music. Since 2008, the band has held a residency at mid-Manhattan’s Jazz Standard club, performing two sets of music every Monday night. The Mingus Big Band has been recording their iterations of Mingus’ music for nearly thirty years, and their album Live at Jazz Standard (2010) earned the group a Grammy award. During spring break, I was fortunate enough to see the group play one of their sets. On this specific night, the band performed “Haitian Fight Song,” one of Mingus’ more significant and revered compositions that appeared on his 1957 album The Clown.

And All That Jazz

People grabbed partners to dance, bump and grind in the aisles. Those who were too shy to get up and show off their moves had their eyes glued to the stage, watching as if in a trance. Remind you of anything? T-Pain? Ludacris? Actually, the grinding that took place this Saturday at Bailey Hall was not the result of intoxicated collegians and the mesmerized faces were not ones of horror but of amazement. In fact, I have yet to attend a Cornell event filled with a more passionate, eager or enthusiastic audience than the one that came together on Saturday to witness a performance by Eddie Palmieri’s Latin Jazz Band.