The last week of January, 2022 was Jazz Week at the FSU College of Music, and each day was packed with interesting events, masterclasses, and performances featuring FSU’s world-class jazz faculty, including Marcus Roberts, Leon Anderson, Scotty Barnhart, David Detweiler, Kevin Jones, Rodney Jordan, and Bill Peterson, as well as special guest artists and alumni including Jason Marsalis, Ricardo Pascal, Tim Blackmon, Tissa Khosla, Joe Goldberg, and Boyce Griffith.
The first part of the week offered several different masterclasses and workshops that covered a multitude of topics, including how to lead a big band in an educational setting, improvisation techniques, and an analysis of Marcus Roberts’s blues suite, Deep in the Shed.
One masterclass in particular focused on the music of Thelonious Monk, a twentieth century jazz pianist and composer. Attendees of this masterclass were treated to in-depth analysis of several of Monk’s compositions and what made his music was unique compared to that of other jazz composers. Professor Roberts, leading the session from the piano, stressed the importance of melody in Monk’s music as opposed to harmonic structure, in that Monk would allow his melodies to dictate how the harmonies would progress. Riveted, the students and other observers listened as Professor Roberts and the other artists explained the intricacies of each piece and then performed them with unmistakable mastery.
To conclude Jazz Week, FSU jazz faculty and guest artists performed Deep in the Shed in beautiful Opperman Music Hall. Displays of masterful virtuosity came from each corner of the stage, often so quickly that the audience couldn’t keep from breaking into applause during the movements of the suite. To the delight of the spectators, each performer had his opportunity to shine.
Professors Roberts and Peterson demonstrated incredible skill and artistry on the piano, and Professor Jordan displayed extraordinary virtuosity on the bass. The saxophonists, made up of Professor Detweiler and Mr. Khosla, Mr. Goldberg, and Mr. Griffith, showcased their talents in superb fashion, and Professor Jones was magnificent on the trombone. On trumpet, Professor Barnhart and Mr. Blackmon dueled each other with the highest degree of dexterity and flair, and the drumming displays of Professor Anderson and Mr. Marsalis drew full-throated cheers from the crowd. As for the music itself, the composing genius of Professor Roberts was clear. Each movement of the suite had a unique feel and character, making for an utterly satisfying and immensely enjoyable evening.
At the close of the concert, the audience leapt to its feet with applause, as well they should. The exhibited musical expertise and brilliance provided the perfect capstone to an excellent week of learning and performance.
Sunday’s concert is also available online at video.wfsu.org/video/fsu-jazz-faculty-and-guests-january-30-2022-jwivre.