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JAZZ BEAT – Drummer Ian Perkins
of Hammond, a member of the Southeastern Louisiana University Jazz Combo,
performs with the eight-member group at a recent concert at the university’s
new Performance Circle. The jazz combo, directed by Allen Zurcher, will
perform at the Pottle Music Building Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. on November
15. The concert is free.
JAZZ CONCERT COMING UP AT POTTLE
HAMMOND -- Jazz enthusiasts recently
got a sneak preview of the musical talents of Southeastern Louisiana University’s
jazz combo as they performed some informal tunes at noon to christen the
“Performance Circle,” the university’s new outdoor stage adjacent to the
Pottle Music Building.
Now, they can hear the eight-member
group in concert, when the combo presents its first formal performance
of the 2002-2003 season on November 15.
The free concert, scheduled for
7:30 p.m. at the Pottle Music Building Auditorium, will be a Southeastern
debut for Department of Music and Dramatic Arts professor Allen Zurcher,
who directs the jazz combo and the larger Southeastern Jazz Ensemble.
Zurcher joined the faculty as
professor of saxophone and jazz studies in August, coming to Southeastern
from the University of Northern Colorado where he is completing his doctoral
degree. He also has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Edinboro University
of Pennsylvania and Youngstown State University, respectively.
Zurcher said the November 15
jazz combo concert will be a potpourri of works, including Gospel-influenced
jazz, blues, and original compositions by combo members.
Composing a jazz piece was a
class assignment for the eight jazz combo members: Lacy Blackledge of Stringer,
Miss., trumpet; Brad Salley of Ellisville, Miss., and Brandon Skalican
of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, alto saxophone; Emmanuel Seals of Fairhope, Ala.,
tenor saxophone; Vasil Cvetkov of Burgas, Bulgaria, piano; Wilson Marks
of Boerne, Texas, guitar; and Aaron Perkins of Hammond, base; and Ian Perkins
of Hammond, drums.
Composing “is part of learning
about the creative process,” said Zurcher. “It teaches students about form
and music, writing interesting melodies, good harmonic progression, and
how all of this relates to creating an interesting piece of music.”
He admits that students are often
intimidated by a composition assignment. “The initial reaction is ‘Oh,
no!’” he said. “But once they start doing it, they get excited about it.
It’s extremely difficult, but I was there to push and prod them along.
“I’ve gotten to know the students
very well,” he said, “and it’s interesting how you can hear their personalities
in the pieces they wrote.”
Zurcher has chosen the three works by Seals, Cvetkov and Marks
for the combo’s concert.
“I think they came out well,”
he said of the compositions. “I believe, too, that this is the first time
in a while that the jazz combo has performed original compositions by students.”
Before joining Southeastern’s music faculty, Zurcher won several honors
and awards, including the 2000 “Downbeat Magazine” Award for best Blues/Pop/Rock
Instrumental Group. As the first alto saxophonist with University of Northern
Colorado Jazz Lab, he was invited to perform at the 2000 International
Association of Jazz Education festival in New Orleans. At Youngstown State
University, he won the 1984 YSU Concerto/Aria Competition with his performance
of Ibert’s “Concertino da Camera.” He also was awarded the Esther Allen
Estock Award for excellence in the performance of classical music and academic
achievement from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.
Zurcher’s career as a performer
has included performances with Clark Terry, Don Menza, Vic De Mon, Dianne
Carroll, Tommy Tune, The Manhattan Rhythm Kings, The Manhattan Transfer,
Conrad Herwig and Brian Lynch. In addition to maintaining an active
freelance career, he has been a regular saxophonist with the Erie Philharmonic
Orchestra and the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra. His discography includes
“Alive XVII: For the Last Time” with the UNC Jazz Lab I (UNC Jazz Press)
and “Waiting In the Alley” with Andy Nevala (Joe’s Grill Records).
For additional information about
the jazz combo concert and Southeastern’s jazz studies program, contact
Zurcher at 985-549-5938 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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