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‘Diverse and exciting’ jazz to be part of Christmas Gala concert

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College Jazz Ensembles will perform “a wide range of styles, from big band to small-group jazz” on Friday, Dec. 11, at 8 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public. A freewill offering will be taken.

“I’m very excited about the upcoming Christmas Gala Concert,” said James Pisano, assistant professor of music and director of jazz studies. “The students in both ensembles have been working hard on the preparation of this advanced music.”

Jazz Ensemble I will open with Thad Jones’ “Central Park North,” a “very exciting, funk-inspired” piece, explained Pisano. Additional pieces include ‘Li’l Darlin’” by Neil Hefti; “April in Paris” by Vernon Duke; and two staples from the Count Basie repertoire.

Jazz Ensemble II will follow with “Four” by Miles Davis and “Donna Dance” by Rick Cornish.

Pisano described “Four” as a “classic, up-tempo, bebop tune” and “Donna Dance” as “a rock-influenced work.”

Jazz Ensemble I will round out the evening with prominent studio writer Alf Clausen’s “Captain Perfect” and Jim McNeely’s “Off the Cuff.”

“‘Off the Cuff’ is a very difficult chart, both harmonically and rhythmically, and truly requires the utmost sophistication, largely due to its often chamber music-like sections,” said Pisano. “At times, the entire band is playing in unison while the rhythm section is soloing.”

Pisano anticipates an exciting concert that features the talents of the ensembles and individual soloists.

“I am thrilled with the progress the band has made this semester, and thoroughly enjoy working with these students,” he said. “They are so highly motivated, and have striven to make this a very polished concert.”

Upcoming jazz events include the Newton Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble Concert on Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public.

Jazz Ensemble I personnel are: saxophones, Joel Boettger, freshman from Hesston, Evan Fast, senior from Goessel, Jordan Ortman, freshman from Marion, S.D., Camden Pankratz, sophomore from North Newton, and Paul Voran, freshman from Newton; trombones, Eric Goering, sophomore from McPherson, Benjamin Harder, senior from Hesston, Christian Loganbill, senior from Wichita, and Rachel Trumble, Newton community member; trumpets, Alex Boldt, junior from Parlier, Calif., Kyle Doesken, sophomore from Derby, Austin McCabe-Juhnke, senior from North Newton, and Kyle Unruh, senior from Goessel; drums, Nathaniel Yoder, Kalona, Iowa; bass, Landon Bartel, freshman from Newton; guitar, Bradley McKellip, senior from Newton; and piano, Benjamin Stucky, junior from Moon Township, Pa.

Jazz Ensemble II personnel are: saxophones, Andrew Unruh, sophomore from Valley Center, Amy Flax, senior from Brownell, and Ryan Goertzen, sophomore from Goessel; cello, Anna Cook, sophomore from Lawrence; bass, Ruth Wiens, freshman from Newton; guitar, Megan Siebert, freshman from Topeka; and drums, Dominic Suter, freshman from Hutchinson.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2009 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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