When Taylor Ho Bynum was first hired as the new director of Dartmouth’s all-student Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble, his new colleagues warned him that running a Hop ensemble gets complicated “when students leave to The Deep Land.” He soon learned that they were actually referring to “the D Plan,” Dartmouth’s longstanding student scheduling system in which students take off-campus terms at various points in the year, not just in summer. For musical ensembles like the Barbary Coast, this means the number of participating students and the instruments they play can vary greatly over a single academic year, making it tricky to plan a season.
That clarification aside, Bynum remained intrigued by the idea of students going to a “Deep Land”—particularly students engaging in the expansive, exploratory activity of improvisation, a major emphasis for Barbary Coast players. Thus was born “The Deep Land,” a composition that Bynum—an internationally acclaimed band leader, composer and cornetist—penned for the Coast’s nine graduating senior members, to be played as the final piece in the ensemble’s annual “Senior Feature” concert on Saturday, May 12, 8 pm in Spaulding Auditorium. Bynum says he plans to make it a tradition to write a piece for the graduating seniors to play.
The Senior Feature concert continues a longstanding Coast tradition in which the graduating seniors chose the repertoire for the spring concert, expressing their individual tastes and usually featuring themselves as soloists.
This year, that repertoire includes an original tune (“You Take Time,” by Mali Obomsawin ’18, who performs on voice, guitar and acoustic bass); a Nat King Cole standard (“Too Young to Go Steady,” by Jimmy McHugh, featuring Emma Howeiler ’18 piano, voice and arrangement); funk (Herbie Hancock’s “Wiggle Waggle,” featuring David Ballou ’18 on bass trombone); a Cream/Jethro Tull mash-up (“Do What You Like/Too Old to Rock and Roll: Too Young to Die,” featuring Andrès Jacobs ’18 on electric guitar, voice, flute and arrangement); and a song made famous by Björk (“It’s Oh So Quiet,” featuring vocalist Zoe Sands ’18 who, like Björk, is from Iceland).
For Ziqi Wang ’18, this concert completes an arc begun before he enrolled at Dartmouth.” In his notes for the concert playbill, Wang wrote: “I am from a small but well-known town called Hanover, NH. At Dartmouth, I am an economics and environmental studies double major. While still a senior in high school, I saw the Barbary Coast perform in a senior feature concert much like the one I am playing in tonight. This prompted me to join the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble in the fall of 2014, and I have been playing with the group since then.”
Wang’s choice, which features him on alto saxophone, is “Hit the Ground Running,” by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band—“a fast and fun piece that incorporates a majority of the band and reflects the fun spirit of the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble that I have experienced during these past four years,” he wrote.