Barbary Coast seniors bid farewell with finesse
Perhaps one of the most heartwarming and exciting events of a busy Green Key weekend was the annual Barbary Coast "Senior Feature" concert.
It was unusual because it focussed all attention on the reservoir of talented musicians graduating this spring, and memorable because of the creativity and skill of all the band members.
The seven seniors whose solo perfomances were showcased included trumpeters Laura Iwan '93, Mike McClure '94, Allison Kornet '94; saxophonists Eric Portland '94, Kirk Miller '94, Rick Moss T'94, and drummer Sean Paley '94. This was a partcularly special tribute because Don Glasgo, director of the Coast, believes that these seniors are the leaders of one of the "great bands" he has assembled in his 17 years at Dartmouth.
Another unique aspect of the concert was that Glasgo gave artistic control of the program to the students who had the main solos. The result was a diverse repertoire that consisted of classics like "Goodbye Porkpie Hat" by bassist Charles Mingus, "Everyday I have the Blues" (traditional) and "Rockin' in Rhythm" by Duke Ellington, as well as selections like "Soul Vaccination" by S. Kupka and E. Castillo, and the aptly titled "We're Outta Here" by Dave Eshelman.
But throughout the evening, whether the band was playing a standard or new piece, there was always confidence, finesse and closeness in the sound. All the solos were tight, clear and expressive, punctuated by the close-knit rhythm section of Luis Scheker '95 on piano, Todd Miller '95 on bass and Paley.
Moss, Iwan and Portland were particularly impressive and articulate in demonstrating the spectacular technique that has earned each a lead role in the band.
In one of the most beautiful performances of the evening, Iwan and Moss combined to share solo time on "Rainbow Hat" by Steve Turre. Moss started things off with a breathtaking solo at ballad tempo and put on a clinic in dynamics, tone, and clarity in expressing musical phrases. Iwan followed with a restatement of the melody and then proceeded to twist, turn and reshape it with a discplined improvisation, finally leading into Luis Scheker's piano solo, swinging lightly with Paley and Todd Miller backing him.
This is not to ignore any of the other performances of the evening, as they were all equally spectacular; Kornet, McClure, Kirk Miller, Portland and Paley all staged their intelligent and fluent soloing ability with a diverse selection of pieces. Paley, one of the prominent voices of the rhythm section, delighted the crowd with swift polyrhythms on "Soul Vaccination" and Portland blew an intense clarinet solo for "Woodchopper's Ball."
Tanielle McBain '96, the only vocalist of the group, also added two fine performances with classics "Summertime" (Gershwin) and "Everyday I have the Blues" (traditional).
It is clear that these seniors will indeed be missed next year, and it was evident from Glasgo's tributes and the warm accolades from the audience that this band is composed of some very dedicated, hard-working and gifted musicians.
The concert on Saturday evening was a fitting honor for those who will depart as well as apt recognition for those who will continue to contribute to the Coast.