The Barbary Coast bids farewell to its departing seniors

by Brent Reidy | 5/16/02 5:00am

Tuesday night, the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble performed the Senior Feature Concert in Spaulding Auditorium and wished goodbye to their graduating members by placing them in the spotlight. The concert featured seniors Kristin Romberg on vocals, percussionist Derek Hanson, trombonist Greg Hill and drummer Nick Stine.

Romberg's feature section was first in the show. Her opening number, "Send in the Clowns," wowed the audience with its authentic sensitivity. Romberg's voice was suitable and her presentation and inflection were superb.

Following "Clowns," the upbeat tunes "Lullaby of Birdland" and "Straighten Up and Fly Right" took the concert in an emotional direction while showcasing Romberg's ability to sing with elation and scat. The eight-bar dialogue between Romberg and members of the rhythm section, created by the solo order, was interesting and lively. Romberg's voice is great and her ability to emote naturally lends her to lively songs.

Hanson was the next senior soloist. In closing remarks, Barbary Coast director Don Glasgo stated that Hanson was "not afraid to go out on a limb and come back...which is a great asset to improvisation." Hanson's choice of material aptly reflected Glasgo's statement.

Hanson's first number was a duet with Indian percussionist Vijay Rao '03. The duo was both intriguing and engaging. Hanson displayed his hand percussion talent to the receptive audience. His ability to subdivide flawlessly and move through complex rhythm patterns was remarkable.

Hanson's next tune was "Norwegian Wood." Though this number is best left to The Beatles and Victor Wooten, Hanson's drum kit solos were terrific, demonstrating his drumming technique and ability to fluidly solo.

After intermission, Hill took his turn in the spotlight. The funky piece "Rockit" provided him with an ample canvas on which to paint his musical thoughts. He took to the groove, creating solos that had tremendous melodic development. According to Glasgo, Hill's four years with the ensemble have transformed his playing ability. Likewise, each solo in this piece metamorphosized from simplicity to gratifying climax.

The last to exhibit his talents was Stine. He started with a Medeski, Martin and Wood tune, "Shuck It Up." Respectfully, Stine held back from taking over the piece, and displayed his drumming ability through terrific drum fills, whose syncopation were grabbing. The piece transitioned from groove, to swing, to free time and back to groove. Nick handled each well.

Stine's next piece featured several of his friends on guitar, bass and turntables. In this piece Stine's use of space during his fills and solos was most noticeable.

Throughout the concert, the Coast's rhythm section was near flawless, playing as a well-developed quartet while complementing the other performers.

Besides the two senior percussionists, Kabir Sehgal '05 stole a portion of the show with his two-handed version of "Freddie Freeloader" on the electric bass, displaying his technical virtuosity and ability to be fun, engaging and accessible to the audience.

James Wrubel '04's piano solos were equally thoughtful; one could tell by the way he cocked his head that he put deliberate consideration into each of his solos

The only malady in the concert's line up was the last piece of the first section, "Bud & Bird." The song was of disproportionate length, featuring 14 soloists. By the end of the tune, one grew weary of solos altogether. Many of the solos were done well, and Glasgo rightly gave many members of the ensemble a chance to shine. However, these solos would have been better if they had been distributed throughout the concert, rather than lumped together in one colossal song.

A message to Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble seniors: kudos on all your hard work, and good luck on your future musical endeavors.