In this video by Jennie Evans ’17, some current members of the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble say hi from inside their rehearsal room in the bowels of the Hop, where they’re preparing for their October 22 concert. In the weeks to come, you’ll be hearing from other Hop Ensembles as they get ready for their fall performances–vocal, symphonic and wind music of a gorgeous variety and high quality!
More on the Barbary Coast and its fall concert:
In the mid-1970s, a young jazz-playing Dartmouth College library employee took the helm of what had been a student-run jazz group. He soon had steered the group to a higher level, with cutting-edge repertoire and residencies with great jazz artists.
Some 40 years later, Don Glasgo is retiring as director of the Hop’s Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble at the end of the 2016-17 season—leaving behind a long list of esteemed guest artists who have worked with the group over the decades, and alumni who have learned powerful musical and life lessons. At the same time, he’s maintained a busy schedule as a valve trombonist with ensembles including the Trey Anastasio Band and his own outfit, Sol Food.
Four of those Coast guest artists are coming back for Glasgo’s final season. The fall concert, on Saturday, October 22, features Nicole Mitchell (“the preeminent improvising flutist of her generation”—Jazziz Magazine) and multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum. The Coast’s 38th Annual Winter Carnival Concert February 10 features guest artists Joe Bowie (composer/trombone/vocals) of the punk/funk/avant-garde groups Defunkt and Defunkt Big Band; and Steven Bernstein (composer/arranger/trumpet/slide trumpet), leader of Sex Mob, The Millennial Territorial Orchestra and other ensembles, along with working with Woody Allen, Robert Altman, Aretha Franklin, Levon Helm, Sting and others. As usual, the Coast will rehearse the music of these artists through the term and polish these renditions with the artist in residence for a week leading up to the concert.
Mitchell, who worked with the Coast in 2008, is roundly considered the finest flutist in jazz today. Wrote Jazz Times, “Few flutists can summon the variety of tones, textures, emotional realms and degrees of light from the instrument that Mitchell can.” She has been named “Top Flutist of the Year” numerous times by the DownBeat Critics Poll and the Jazz Journalists Association. She’s also considered a visionary composer and ensemble leader whose music celebrates African American culture while integrating new ideas with elements of jazz, pop, gospel, experimentalism and African percussion. Wrote Richard Marcus of BlogCritics, “I’ve heard any number of modern and classical string quartets and ensembles. However I can honestly say I’ve never heard anything quite like Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Strings before. A fusion of classical, jazz, contemporary composition, avant-garde jazz, and traditional rhythms bound together by a spirit of adventure and a willingness to take chances make them one of the more exciting and interesting combos of musicians that you’re liable to hear in any genre.” Mitchell recently joined the music faculty at the University of California, Irvine.
Apfelbaum first made a name for himself while still a teen, in the late 1970s, as founder of the Hieroglyphics Ensemble, a 17-piece band that led the way in mixing avant-garde jazz with elements of traditional world musics. In the decades since, he has headed several iterations of the Hieroglyphics, formed several smaller ensembles (including a new project, Sparkler, which includes vocalists) and played with a shifting roster of artists, most recently including the Josh Roseman Unit, Steven Bernstein’s Millenial Territory Orchestra, Dafnis Prieto’s Quintet and Kamikaze Ground Crew. His music has been performed by the Kronos Quartet, the National Swedish Radio Orchestra of Stockholm, the Bay Area Jazz Composers Orchestra, Harry Belafonte, Kamikaze Ground Crew and the Trey Anastasio Band.
This will be Apfelbaum’s sixth residency with the Coast—more than any other artist. His first took place in the late 1980s with band leader Karl Berger, and subsequent visits included trumpet player Don Cherry, with whom Apfelbaum worked intensively in the 1980s, and Steven Bernstein, the Coast’s winter resident artist, a musical colleague of Apfelbaum’s since their high school days in Berkeley, Calif.