Jazz @ Bucknell: Why YOU should go!


Throughout your time at Bucknell, you have probably experienced a time where you thought to yourself, “wow, I wish Bucknell was more concerned/up to date with the music it brings onto campus.” No? Just me then? Regardless, over the past two years, we’ve seen some disappointing events occur in terms of music on campus, with Lupe Fiasco condescendingly walking off stage 10 minutes into his set, Avicii being too sick to press a few buttons on a mixer, and the cancellation of our campus’ only real opportunity to hire outside musicians for everybody’s enjoyment (I’ll let you guess what I’m referring to here). However, amidst all of this musical turmoil, the music department has done a fantastic job securing some of the most talented, stylish, and avant-garde Jazz stars currently killing the contemporary jazz scene. The music department’s reputation as a welcoming, accommodating atmosphere for jazz performers to come conduct master classes, concerts, and jam sessions is growing; this is beginning to attract more and more performers who, as many performers do throughout the country each year, conduct University tours to help make a living for themselves.

Bucknell is also becoming better known for the quality of many of their performance spaces, including the wonderfully-acoustic-yet-still-somehow-underused recital hall in the Sigfried Weis Building, the vintage, almost antique look of Bucknell Hall, and of course the state of the art Weis Center. All of this combined with the funding that the music department receives each year to bring in artists has begun to attract the finest that the Jazz world has to offer.

One of these performers, coming October 1st, is trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire. Akinmusire is a virtuosic composer whose music really highlights his writing ability and deliberateness with which he hits every pristine, brassy note. As you can hear in one of his tracks “Confessions to My Unborn Daughter,” Akinmusire and his quartet beautifully outline harmonies and his playing makes you feel as though he is not the star, but an integral piece to the interweaving parts that make up a larger, more important sound. This instantly differentiates Akinmusire from his contemporaries such as Roy Hargrove, who is very much a trumpet leader.Akinmusire rejects this notion and creates not just a song in which the lead horn is trumpet but a musical environment in which trumpet augments the percussive sounds and harmonic lines played by the other instruments.

Akinmusire records for Blue Note Records and received the number 1 spot in the New York Times best Jazz records of 2011. He also recently won the Doris Duke Impact Award for jazz musicians who are actively working to improve, progress, and influence the field of Jazz.




Another one of the big names coming to Bucknell this year is Donny McCaslin. An amazing tenor saxophonist, Donny McCaslin has been on the scene for a long time, having played with just about any contemporary jazz musician you could name over the past 30 years or so. McCaslin’s experience and knowledge of Jazz is vast, and it shows. With over 10 studio albums featuring McCaslin as leader, he has taken the post-Bop era by storm, integrating just about any element of modern music he can into Jazz.

Recently, McCaslin has integrated electronic textures, polyphonics, and contemporary, syncopated rhythmic elements into his classic style of play, which has lead to extremely rich and musically developed compositions that are extremely enjoyable. Take, for instance, McCaslin’s “Energy Generation,” which mixes some downright dirty straight-eighth funk with these contemporary post-Bop elements. McCaslin’s sound is indicative of a veteran, an extremely calculated musician who uses his vast musical vocabulary to his advantage at every turn.




So, with all of this being said, you don’t have to worry. You don’t have to worry about whether or not Chance the Rapper will be a success or worry about counting the number of times Jason Derulo sings his own name during the fall concert. Come to Jazz @ Bucknell this year for some great music that you can trust, because Bucknell isn’t slacking when it comes to bringing the best jazz it can to our campus.

(Image Source: Wikipedia)


Bucknell NewsAlex Horowitz