Three seniors to be featured in Barbary Coast Ensemble concert
If you entered the Hopkins Center at any point this week, you might have noticed a zany video blaring brassy big band music. The video, which features Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble’s three graduating seniors, Kimberly Hassel ’16, Moises Silva ’16 and Kathryn Waychoff ’16, is a promotion for the Ensemble’s upcoming Senior Feature Concert.
Barbary Coast puts on this show every spring in order to highlight the graduating seniors’ accomplishments during their tenure with the ensemble. This year marks the shows 37th annual occurrence.
The three graduating seniors to be featured are Hassel, a saxophone and clarinet player, Silva, a percussionist, and Waychoff who plays lead trumpet. Each senior got to pick a few songs designed to represent their specific interests and skillsets within jazz.
The song featured in the video, “Tank!” by the Japanese blues and jazz band SEATBELTS, well-known as the opening theme to the classic anime show “Cowboy Bebop,” is one of Hassel’s picks. She picked the song for its prominent saxophone solo and for how well it fit the ensemble.
“I really like this song, I think it’s a fun song,” Hassel said. “I also like the whole kind of secret agent vibe that goes with it.”
The song intersects with Hassel’s academic interests. She is a Japanese modified with anthropology major, and will be pursuing a doctorate in East Asian Studies at Princeton University after graduation.
Hassel chose her second song, “One More Once,” by Dominican jazz pianist Michel Camilo to honor her own Dominican heritage as well as incorporate some interesting rhythms into the set.
Waychoff’s song choices stem from her past, in this case, her youth.
Two of the pieces Waychoff selected are songs by Maynard Ferguson and His Orchestra, a band she grew up listening to, which she feels is why it is “sort of inevitable” that she is playing them now.
One of those pieces includes “Maria,” the source of Waychoff’s middle name.
Hassel’s third song, “It’s Only a Paper Moon” by Benny Goodman featuring Dottie Reed — the vocals will be sung by Tyné Freeman ’17 — has roots in her development as a jazz musician, as it was a song she listened to a lot during her transition from classical to jazz clarinet.
Hassel characterizes her improvisational style as rhythmic.
“I definitely like to play very loudly and just experiment a lot with rhythm and just basically shred,” Hassel said. “I think that’s what my trademark is in the band.”
Barbary Coast Ensemble director Don Glasgo remarked on the “constantly positive energy” Hassel brings to the group.
“She just has such a beautiful attitude toward the group and is such a nice person,” Glasgo said.
Meanwhile, Waychoff’s role is the steadfast lead trumpet, a position she stepped into when she first joined the Ensemble her freshman year. She commented that the transition was hard, but that as she has gotten older she has learned to play with more confidence, even if it means confidently missing a note.
“I’d never been challenged that much in music before,” Waychoff said. “A lead player’s role is to be constant and to be the driving force that’s always there.”
Waychoff picked up trumpet from her father, also a jazz trumpeter, who encouraged her to practice and created a jazz-filled environment in their home.
“A lot of the songs that sort of embody why I play jazz and aspects of my childhood are songs that we’re going to play at the concert,” Waychoff said.
The third song Waychoff chose for her feature is “Get It On” by the band Chase, a rock song that features trumpets.
“She’s been the best lead trumpet player I’ve ever had in the group, so it’s been a pleasure all the way through,” Glasgo said. “I’m glad she’s going to be featured the way she wants to be in the show.”
For his feature, Silva is doing just one piece — but no one’s heard it yet. For the show, he is going to perform a single eight to 10-minute-long, improvised drum solo with an audience immersion aspect. Even Glasgo will be hearing how Silva executes his solo for the first time on Thursday at the concert.
“I’m excited about that, just to hear what’s he going to do and how he’s going to do it. That’ll be fun,” Glasgo said.
Silva got his inspiration for the piece from Antonio Sánchez, a Mexican jazz drummer known for his integral role in the soundtrack for the film “Birdman” (2014). Silva admires Sanchez’s ability to develop ideas throughout the whole song, rather than just do the motion of a drum solo.
“What I like about him is that he really champions melody and rhythmic ideas as a whole instead of ‘How fast can I go?,’” Silva said.
Silva joined the band just two years ago with little jazz drumming experience, after encouragement from one of his bandmates in student band The Euphemisms, who also played for Barbary Coast.
“I wanted to join the Barbary Coast, because to me that’s the group where if you really are an expert at your instrument, then you play in that group,” Silva said.
The concert is also the first one since the Ensemble’s spring break trip to Cuba. During the trip, they toured the country, playing with high school and professional musicians.
“Going to Cuba was a big surprise and a great way to end senior year,” Silva said. “It made it easier to say it was time to let go of the Barbary Coast.”
Hassel commented on the sense of community within the group.
“Coast is an amazing group of people,” Hassel said. “[The Cuba trip] made me realize how much of a family they are to me and how much I’m going to miss the band.”