The Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble is Dartmouth’s student jazz group; the members play their instruments and improvise surrounded by other lively musicians. Directed by the dynamic Taylor Ho Bynum, the ensemble recently performed with visiting quartet Del Sol. It performs its own program on Friday, November 3, 8 pm, in Spaulding Auditorium – exploring the music of such innovators as Duke Ellington, Mary Lou Williams, Sun Ra and Thelonious Monk.
As the Hop’s Audience Engagement department intern, I was interested in the connection between student life and being in an ensemble. I recently interviewed Noah Campbell, a ’21 who plays tenor saxophone in Barbary Coast.
What is your background playing your instrument? How did you get into music?
My parents loved world music so I grew up hearing Stan Getz playing bossa nova and Wayne Shorter’s Native Dancer. I loved the sound but did not yet know what a saxophone looked like. One day, we came across the Lawrence Welk Show and a man in a powder blue suit was playing tenor saxophone, and I made the connection. In the fourth grade, my family bought me an alto saxophone and I began participating in band under the direction of Rebecca Petrey. I was not heavily involved in music at first, but in middle school that changed when Kenneth Gill, my band instructor, was looking for people to join the jazz band. I joined as soon as I could and that led me to start to take music more seriously. A year after I joined the jazz band. I also started marching for Huguenot High School [Richmond, Virginia], which as a middle school student was very eye-opening. I was surrounded by people who had more musical knowledge than I did, and I absorbed all I could. This led me to attend Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology for high school, majoring in jazz. I picked up clarinet and bass clarinet during my time there, but I made the transition to tenor since I often listen to tenor players. I have been focusing on tenor ever since.
Why did you join Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble?
I was looking for a group of musicians to play with on campus, and BCJE seemed like it would be a good fit. I have previous experience with big bands, playing with the VCU Greater Richmond High School Jazz Band for two years, so I wasn’t exactly new to the style.
What is your favorite thing about BCJE?
I enjoy the fact that there are other people who enjoy playing music. I am a person who needs a balance of arts and academics, so being in BCJE helped to supplement that balance.
What do you think people would find the most surprising about BCJE?
We are a very quirky band that is tightly united. Most would think we are serious all the time, but we often joke around.
How do you see jazz playing a part on Dartmouth’s campus?
I see it as a possible way for students to immerse themselves into the genre and helping to spread the tradition. I feel like it could play a bigger part on campus as time goes on, but it has a very good place at Dartmouth so far.