By: Darren May  | 

Jazz Ensemble Performs to Packed Crowd in Spring Concert

There are many programs at YU that are lauded for their outstanding caliber of excellence. Our Jewish learning programs are undeniably world class, our academics are among the finest in the country; one could go on and on. There are, however, some exceptional programs that are often overlooked by the general school and faculty, yet continue to uphold a high level of excellence. The YU Jazz Program is one of these programs and recently held their annual spring concert just before Pesach break.

There has been a jazz ensemble at YU for over 25 years. The band is currently headed by Dr. John Shapiro, who played piano in the concert. Other band members include Dr. Noyes Bartholomew on trumpet, Darren May on trumpet, Benji Richter on guitar, Daniel Benaderet on guitar, Hillel Field on guitar, Jonathan Sidlow on guitar, Corey Hamel on violin, Aryeh Tiefenbrunn on bass, and finally Isaac Kleinman on drums. Together, they played a concert on March 26 in Schottenstein Hall’s Recital Room, to a packed audience.

The concert consisted of seven songs. Among these were some jazz standards such as “So What” by Miles Daives, “Bye Bye Blackbird” by Ray Henderson, and “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise” by Sigmund Romberg. However, there were also some original compositions by members of the band. Bass player Aryeh Tiefenbrunn composed a piece called “So Sue Me,” and drummer Isaac Kleinman composed a piece called “Star Wars Jazz.” Another highlight of the night was the one vocal number sang by guest singer George Rubin. He sang another jazz standard entitled “Mack the Knife,” which instantly became a crowd favorite.

The general attitude towards the concert amongst the audience members was one of great positivity. For many, this was their first jazz concert, and it served as a nice entrance into a new world of musical possibility. For others, this was another concert in a long history of jazz experiences. Even these seasoned jazz goers found the concert very enjoyable, and thought that the music was very high quality.

Most importantly, many of the audience members enjoyed hearing and supporting their friends. Daniel Shlian, a YU junior, said, "It's always great to support my friends, a number of whom were on stage, but it's even better when they're producing a really enjoyable experience. The music was wonderful on so many levels, but above all I had a really good time."

The YU Jazz Ensemble’s concert was not just a great musical experience, but a testament to the talent and creativity that is abound among the YU student body. The students in the concert only met once a week to rehearse. With just this small amount of preparation, they were able to performed complicated classic jazz tunes that are often played by professional jazz bands around the world. Yeshiva University enriches the lives of their students through a number of different learning avenues. The music program is one of the many ways that the student body is able to express their creative abilities, and will surely remain a mainstay of student ingenuity for years to come.