November 24, 2017

Gordon Jazz Ensemble Slides Into Fall Semester

Jazz Ensemble performs at Homecoming. Photo by Angelina Ingrassia.

By Angelina Ingrassia ’18
Managing Editor

The Coy Pond Piranhas may at first sound like the evil flesh-eating school of fish, so it might
come as a surprise to discover that this is actually the name of the Gordon College Jazz
Ensemble.

Conducted by Dr. David W. Rox, the Coy Pond Piranhas are comprised of roughly fourteen
students and six to eight North Shore community members, including Jazz Pianist Dr. Graeme
Bird. Playing music that utilizes forceful or regular rhythms, syncopation, and selected
improvisation from different instruments throughout the pieces, this jazz ensemble leaves their
audience tapping feet in their seats and swaying to the intoxicating beats.

The Coy Pond Piranhas recently made their season début with a showcase on September 30th,
during the Gordon’s homecoming celebration. Drawing a massive crowd, the ensemble
performed seven different pieces ranging from Roy Eldridge's “The Heat’s On” to Jesse Stone’s

“Shake Rattle and Roll”, leaving the audience in high spirits.

With such a successful performance, it might also come as a surprise to hear that, according to
Rox, the ensemble was only able to meet and rehearse roughly five times prior. However, this
did not deter Rox from placing eight plus pieces in front of his ensemble and pushing them to
excel- and excel they did.

When asked what preparation for a concert like this included, Bird said, “practic[ing] solos
specifically.” He continued to explain the importance of improvisation practice because when
one performs, it is done entirely alone. He also stressed the importance of “experimenting” with different things that might work within a piece.

Student trumpeter Nathaniel Chmura ‘18 elaborated on the preparation process. When asked
about improvisation practice, Chmura said, “You have to listen to different things, and then you
just play along until the improvs become reactions. It’s muscle memory.”

As Dr. Bird summed it up nicely, playing jazz is all about “fluidity.”
The Coy Pond Piranhas will continue preparing for their upcoming performances, the next one
being November 11th at 8:00 pm.

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