What a Valentine gift our community received from the University of Puget Sound. The UPS Jazz Orchestra performed to an SRO crowd at Schneebeck Hall on February 14th.
The concert featured guest artist Joshua Redman, saxophone, performing in an exclusive Northwest appearance with the University of Puget Sound Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Tracy Knoop. Redman has recorded or performed with artists such as Ray Brown, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, The Dave Matthews Band, Bill Frisell, Charlie Haden, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, Milt Jackson, Elvin Jones, Quincy Jones, Big Daddy Kane, B.B. King, The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, DJ Logic, Yo Yo Ma, Branford Marsalis, John Medeski, Brad Mehldau, Pat Metheny, The Rolling Stones, The Roots, Soulive, and String Cheese Incident.
What a fantastic display of talent. When members of the orchestra began walking on stage, the audience immediately responded with applause. It reminded me of UPS commencement . . . a special occasion, but with individual élan and humor. Most wore dark suits or clothing, but not all. Some wore slacks and shirt. One had pants that were three inches too short, but probably hemmed that way on purpose. One of the youngest looking members wore a jacket that resembled a Hugh Hefner smoking jacket. Through out the performance numerous members were spotlighted to great appreciation. We had seen the red-headed trumpet player perform before. He was excellent. The orchestra numbered somewhere around 23-24 performers. There were six Saxophone players, five trombones, and four trumpets. One Sax player who had a solo also played flute on one number. In the big band number the female trumpet player had a nice solo. The baritone Saxophone player did a wonderful job. I used to play baritone so I know the skill it takes to play that instrument well. There were more stand outs than I can mention. I wish there had been a program.
Leading the whole group was Tracy Knoop, the director of the Jazz Orchestra. You could tell that he loves his job, his students, and enjoys the music. He constantly bobs his head a little off-beat (traditional jazz style), cleans his glasses while speaking, smiles, and almost dances as he walks around the stage directing with casual movements of his hands. “Tracy has performed with such greats as Louis Bellson, Ray Charles, Natalie Cole, Bernadette Peters, Buddy Rich, and Mel Torme. He also has performed with the Temptations, Four Tops, and the Seattle Symphony.”
Joshua Redman was everything the publicity said, and more. He talked for a few minutes and had fun. I would have really enjoyed seeing a duet with Joshua and Tracy. At the last concert we saw Tracy play Sax and did an incredible job, but I think that Tracy wants to showcase his students more than he wants to showcase his own talents. That makes a great teacher.
I’m guessing there were five hundred or more people in the audience for this Wednesday evening performance. Concerts similar to this one, as well as art exhibits, plays, and lectures are available from Tacoma to Parkland from our local universities and colleges. The prices are inexpensive and they give us all a chance to experience quality performances so close to home.