SU Big Band gets jazzy with upcoming concert


The Susquehanna University Big Band performed its second jazz concert of the semester on Dec. 2. Instruments represented included alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, piano, contrabass and percussion.

The band performed “Otra Vez” by Craig Biondi, “3-D Mambo” by Tito Puente and “Catch Me If You Can,” “City in the Window,” “A Little Selinsgrove Git-Down” and “Chili Today, Hot Tamale” by Rick Hirsch.

Seniors Cody Zahoroiko, Coleman Rowlett and Alexis Bixler, juniors Ben Magrowski, John Leonard, Tyler Mariano, Jordan Flowers and Michael Kaminski, sophomores Luke Duceman, Darby Orris, Dylan Little, Greg Wright and Kevin Grzybek and first-years Jon Deysher, Brennan Rudy and Augustus Black performed. Each musician performed at least one solo during the concert.

In preparation for the concert, the band worked in collaboration with multiple guest artists, according to Zahoroiko, who plays alto saxophone. The guests were New York musicians Barry Olsen and Valerie Naranjo and Penn State professor Rick Hirsch.

“[Naranjo] is one of the first Western musicians to have been accepted into African music traditions,” Zahoroiko said. “That has allowed her to bring some of that music back here for the rest of us to enjoy. Barry Olsen has done the same thing with a lot of Latin jazz, and his expertise ranges far and wide in terms of the music that he’s able to play and teach.”

“Olsen and Naranjo worked with us earlier this semester on Latin jazz and world music, and then later we worked with Rick Hirsch on some of his compositions,” Zahoroiko added. “The fact that we got to work with professional musicians on their music and the music that they specialize in definitely benefited us in our own interpretations.”

The pieces performed related to the guest artists, whether they were composed or arranged by the guests.

“In the past, we’ve worked more on putting out a kaleidoscope of repertoire,” Zahoroiko said. “We generally put out some serious modern jazz, some old standards and everything in between. We’ve been a little bit more selective this semester with the music that

we’ve chosen to play in that the music that we’re playing specifically relates to the guest artists that Josh Davis brought in.”

Sophomore Julie Lentz, who attended the concert, called the pieces upbeat, and first-year Sydney Stone added, “It made me want to dance a lot.”

“I really like the pun in [“Chili Today, Hot Tamale”]. It made me laugh a lot,” first-year Hannah Nyce said.

Nyce also noted the amount of solos, which allowed each performer a chance in the spotlight.