January 27, 2014
Contact: Alisa Pearson
Manager of Concert Programming, Production & Publicity
AMHERST, Mass. – The Amherst College Department of Music will present a collection of Jazz tunes written and arranged by Michelle McPherson ’14 and a hybrid classical and jazz saxophone recital by Daniella Bassi ’14 on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 7 pm. In Buckley Recital Hall in the Arms Music Center at Amherst College. The concert is free and open to the public; seating is by general admission. Refreshments will be served following the performance.
The music of McPherson’s thesis primarily follows the tradition of jazz and blues standards from the first half of the 20th century with some departures into modern and Latin jazz. Especially influenced by vocalists Sam Cooke, Etta James, Nancy Wilson and Madeleine Peyroux, each tune is written to reflect a different mood paired with an aspect of human experience, falling anywhere from fear to whimsy. Performers include Jon Fisher on drums, Stephen Page on piano, David Picchi on double bass and electric bass, and Michelle McPherson singing vocals.
Known primarily for being a jazz instrument in the social eye, the saxophone has a short and relatively unknown history in comparison to other instruments. It was born in the mid nineteenth century with the purpose of filling a gap in the woodwind family—it was to encompass the light and metallic timbre of the flute and the reedy darkness of the clarinet, and to combine them with the potency of a brass instrument and a register that would bring cohesion to wind music.
Bassi’s thesis will unveil the saxophone’s hidden and forgotten possibilities. It will show it in the dressings of its classical golden age of the early twentieth century—in darkness and in light, at virtuosic speeds and registers, in shuddering lyrical expression, and steeping in the cultures of America and France, its primary influences and manipulators. It will also show it in the shadowy beauty and spontaneity of jazz, where the listener may embrace it in a variety of tonalities, degrees of singing smoothness and electrifying roughness, and may admire the extended techniques that are born of embracing imperfection. This recital is the veritable representation of the glorious collision that the twenty-first century is surreptitiously nudging the two painfully separated halves of saxophone toward—a union that should never have been severed to begin with.
For a complete listing of upcoming Amherst College Department of Music events, visit us on the web: www.amherst.edu/academiclife/departments/music/events.