This is the first of three profiles of the graduating seniors who will be featured in the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble’s spring concert on Thursday, May 19. The photo above, by Hannah O’Flynn ’15, shows Hassel during the Coast’s March music exchange trip to Cuba.
Kimberly Hassel, of Queens, NY, plays clarinet and alto saxophone with the Coast. Majoring in Japanese modified with Anthropology, she served as a Japanese drill instructor on campus, spent several terms in Japan and is writing an honors thesis based on fieldwork she performed in Japan through funding she received as a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. She’s also been a part of Latin@ Partnership for Success. After Dartmouth, she will pursue a PhD in East Asian Studies at Princeton University with hopes of an academic career.
Growing up, her family couldn’t afford to give her private music lessons, so Hassel taught herself alto sax and clarinet, becoming proficient enough to join the Dartmouth College Marching Band her freshman year. Taking advantage of the free one-on-one lessons available at Dartmouth, she studied with music instructor Fred Haas (“an incredible musician and musical mentor”) and was able to join the Coast her sophomore year. Recently, she has experimented with music outside of jazz and currently plays alto in the student-led rap/hip hop group Trill Hanlon.
“I feel that I have grown so much as a musician since joining Coast. It is so empowering and inspiring to be surrounded by students who are devoted to jazz: the members of Coast have been so supportive of my growth within the ensemble. I definitely feel like I’ve developed a unique style when it comes to improvisation; playing improv on songs is definitely my favorite part of Coast. I am so excited for my senior feature concert: I’ve chosen high energy songs that reflect my energy as a musician, and are quite fun to play for the band…I hope to join a jazz ensemble in Princeton, or at least play some gigs on campus. I know that music will always have an impact on me. Music has always served as a source of healing and a creative outlet for me, and I am certain that it will always play that role in my life.
“One huge take-away from the Cuba trip was the realization that music is universal. We were able to connect on such a profound level with Cuban musicians and groups, despite the language barrier that existed for some of us. We had a blast exchanging music and jamming together, and all of our musical exchanges were full of energy. As a Dominican woman who has grown up listening to Latin jazz, I also definitely felt a sense of belonging during these musical exchanges.
“A personal take-away from the trip was the realization that Coast is, and has been, my family at Dartmouth. Coast has always been a tightly knit group, but we definitely bonded significantly during the tour in Cuba. I absolutely loved spending time with the other members of Coast as we explored Havana, relaxed by the beach, and performed at gigs. I will miss Coast tremendously after I graduate, but I am so glad that I will be able to perform with Coast one last time!”