Jazz Ensemble at MSU Review

The musical talents of the John J. Cali School of Music always leave audience members overly impressed at Montclair State University.

Montclair State University’s jazz students ended the year with a bang at this week’s concert!

Photo courtesy of Peak Performances.

Students in the John J. Cali School of Music’s Montclair State University’s Jazz Ensemble performed this year’s final concert on April 24 at the Alexander Kasser Theater. The concert’s program consisted solely of Latin Jazz Big Band music, which was certainly a change in genre compared to the classic jazz that most college level ensembles perform. This talented group of students received complete silence from the audience the moment they started to play. Overall, the one night event was phenomenal!

“The music and arts program at Montclair is filled with talented students and extremely caring staff that goes about and beyond for the success of its students,” said music major and Montclair State freshman, Kirsten Gorsak.

The Montclair State Jazz Ensemble is currently under the direction of Dr. Jeffery Kunkel. The ensemble has regular performances both on campus and at local jazz venues and festivals. Primarily jazz studies and music majors make up this contemporary group of musicians, however faculty and guest artists often perform alongside the students. Aside from ensemble numbers, many solo performers were featured throughout the night. It was evident to the audience just how much work both the students and faculty put into rehearsals and the final product.

“Professor Kunkel is amazing,” said students from his Intro to Jazz class. “He is very understanding that we are still in the learning process and takes his time to teach us everything we need to know.”

The concert featured the very talented, Grammy Award winning Michael Philip Mossman, who is an arranger and trumpet player. Mossman is a faculty member at Queens College Aaron Copland School of Music who is most well known for his arrangements of Latin music. Having Mossman as a guest artist at this concert was a huge asset to the students, as they got the chance to learn from a true expert in the music field. Aside from his performance experience, Mossman has also written for many films and has worked with multiple jazz artists like Joe Henderson and Bob Mintzer.

“We spent the semester preparing Mike Mossman’s music, and I’m very proud of the result. This was a challenging semester, and my students came through – as they always do,” said Director Kunkel. “Only once before have we had the opportunity to do a full semester of Latin music. This was a challenge in itself.  Also, the guest only comes in for the last rehearsal or two, so you always hope you are preparing the music up to the guest’s expectations.”

The Alexander Kasser Theater is located right on Montclair State University’s campus at 1 Normal Ave. Please visit peakperfs.org for more information about upcoming shows. The summer break is near so don’t miss out on some of Peak Performances’ final shows! Tickets are available online or at the door from the box office. All seats are always reasonably priced or free to MSU undergraduate students with an ID.

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