Shades of the Rainbow: SMSU Jazz Ensemble Performs Fall Concert

Kim Watkins, News Editor

The night was full of colors at Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) as the SMSU Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. John Ginocchio, performed a list of tunes in a rainbow-themed concert.
“Across the Jazz Spectrum” was the name for this year’s Jazz Fall Concert, with tunes so named after shades of the rainbow. The performance was held Monday, Dec. 10 in the Fine Arts Theatre at SMSU.
The ensemble performed a hit song, for those familiar with The Muppets, titled “The Rainbow Connection” written by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher. Rachel Frerich, flugelhorn/trumpet, was a featured soloist for the instrumental version of this tune.
The show carried on with the color theme, starting with pops of red – “Red’s Blues” written by Dallas Burke, “Red Clay” written by Freddie Hubbard, and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” written by Johnny Marks.
The next color, orange, featured vocalist Catherine Lucken performing “Orange Coloured Sky” written by Milton Delugg and William Stein.
The next orange tunes, “Orange Sherbert” written by Sammy Nestico and “Beneath an Orange Moon” written by Howard Rowe, kept the jazziness alive, leading into the next color, yellow.
“Yellow Days” written by Alan Bernstein and Alarcon Alvaro Carrillo featured vocalist Luke Nelson. The tune’s slow pace and relaxing melody led the night into the darker colors of the spectrum.
Green was the next color, which featured tunes such as “On Green Dolphin Street” written by Bronislau Kaper and Ned Washington, “Green Onions” (a popular hit from the 60’s) written by Al Jackson Jr., Booker T. Jones, and Steve Cropper, and a traditional Christmas tune, “Greensleeves.”
The next tune, heading into the blue theme, featured vocalist Aaron Schuler. The tune was written by Irving Berlin and titled “Blue Skies.” The fast-paced “Blue Rondo Ala Turk” was performed next, written by Dave Brubeck.
“This tune was composed by famous jazz musician Dave Brubeck, who actually passed away about a week ago…so, it’s nice that we are able to play this…in memoriam…for tonight,” Ginocchio said.
Purple was the last color of the night, with featured pianist, Tyler Schoep, and alto saxophonist, Amy Nelson, performing “Purple Mist” written by Dick Fenno.
Brittany Steinwand, featured vocalist, performed alongside the band in the popular tune “Over the Rainbow,” written by E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen.
Each vocalist performed one last tune with the ensemble, finishing the night with “The Rainbow Connection.”
The SMSU Jazz Ensemble will perform alongside the SMSU/Community Concert band, Men’s Glee Club, Bella Voce, Concert Choir and the Southwest Minnesota Orchestra this Saturday, Dec. 15 in the A Very Prairie Christmas concert. Admission is $5 and is free for children ages five and under.