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Students perform difficult jazz pieces in concert

On Nov. 19, the University of Maine Jazz Ensemble gathered on the stage to perform their annual fall concert. Located in Minsky Recital Hall, the concert was $9 for the community and free for students with a Mainecard.

There were 17 members of the group who were present for the performance, and together they played 13 songs with an intermission in between. The concert featured saxophone, trumpet, cello, crums, electric guitar and piano. Three students made up the rhythm section, keeping the tempo and beat of each song performed. 

The performance featured a wide array of songs introduced by the conductor, associate professor Jack Burt, who explained the background of each song and spoke about the process of rehearsing them for the show. 

Burt is the director of the UMaine Jazz Ensemble as well as the Brass Ensemble. He announced each soloist performer after they played, including trumpet players Ryan Long, Isabelle Montoro and Max Carter. The concert ran for about two hours.

“There is a lot of variety in the songs we are performing,” Burt said. “There’s old, new, something borrowed and lots of blues.” 

Jazz, a genre that first emerged in America in the late 19th century, includes songs that are known for their repetitive form and structure. The repetition and use of the same underlying chords mimic the style of blues music and help the audience follow along.

The first jazz song performed in the concert was “Ahunk Ahunk” from Thad Jones’ album, “Consummation” that was written in 1970, followed by Benny Carter’s “Easy Money” and swing composer Joe Eckert’s “The Snake was on his way to a Gig.” Many of the songs that were chosen for the concert were a mix of jazz, blues and swing music. The ensemble led into the short intermission with Jim McNeely’s “Extra Credit.”

“Jazz is one of the only genres of music that originated in our country,” Burt said. “The structure can sound like a bunch of notes, but also has a repetitive form like the blues.”

The ensemble also played “Almost Like Being in Love,” “The Legend,” “She’s Leaving Home,” “Donna Lee,” “Back of the Bus” and “Straight No Chaser.” 

The University of Maine’s Jazz Ensemble is an audition-based group that meets on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. To learn more information visit


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