Biola Jazz Ensemble wows at its fall concert

The combination of styles and sentimental moods was a crowd-pleasing good time.


Christina Schantz//THE CHIMES (file)

Ryan Hallum, trumpet, and Beau Knechtel, French horn, serenade the audience.

Brendan Peters, Staff Writer

The fall slate of concerts at Biola’s Conservatory of Music continued this weekend, as the Biola Jazz Ensemble, directed by Cliff Hulling, Professor of Percussion and Composition, performed its fall concert in Crowell Hall. With a combination of brassy big band tunes and sweet, sentimental ballads featuring the saxophones and piano, the Jazz Ensemble continued its tradition of excellence in both variety and musical expression.


One of the unique joys of hearing the Jazz Ensemble perform inside of the Conservatory’s Crowell Hall is the boisterous volume that the band is able to produce — especially in a room designed to echo. This was on full display Saturday with a full trumpet section and a bigger saxophone section than the ensemble has had in quite some time. Hulling noted that all of the switching of players in between tunes was because of the eight saxophonists that participated in the ensemble. Everyone needed to play, but fitting everyone in was quite a challenge.

The power of the big sections is evident in a song like “Some Skunk Funk,” a uniquely named tune that featured a trio of trumpet and saxophones and really let all of the musicians show off. Audience members should expect a loud performance at the Jazz Ensemble concert.


The ensemble showcased a variety of different styles and tunes. These included songs like “Tiger Rag,” a classic Dixieland tune, “Norwegian Wood,” a recognizable Beatles hit, and “Misty,” a traditional jazz ballad which highlighted the band’s ability to go from aggressive to smooth in a moment’s notice.

Nothing was perhaps more unique than the finale, as well as the encore number. The finale, titled, “Cruisin’ for a Bluesin’,” featured the saxophone section and ended with a rousing, fast-drumming finish. But just as the audience was expecting an end, the band treated the audience to one more number. “Samba del Gringo,” shifted genres completely to a rousing tempo with a Latin flair. The band performed the upbeat piece with technique and precision. As the audience tapped along, it was obvious the band enjoyed having a blast.

Throughout the performance, the Jazz Ensemble showed enthusiasm for their craft. With such versatility and talent in droves, it is clear that jazz flourishes on campus.

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