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UMaine Jazz Ensemble, Combo Concert Dec. 2 at Hauck Auditorium

Contact: George Manlove, (207) 581-3756

ORONO — The UMaine Jazz Ensemble and UMaine Jazz Combo will appear in concert in Hauck Auditorium in the Memorial Union of the University of Maine on Thursday evening, Dec. 2, beginning at 7:30 pm.

Among the pieces to be performed by the Jazz Ensemble is Larry Kerchner’s arrangement of Joe Zawinul’s fusion classic, “Birdland,” originally recorded by the band Weather Report.

Well-known composer Matt Harris’ wonderful new composition, “The Prez,” is an up-tempo original for jazz big band, featuring a sextet within the larger ensemble, says Karel Lidral, associate professor of music and director of jazz studies and of the UMaine Ensemble and Combo.

Student solos in the piece are by Steve Barter on the tenor saxophone, Sarah Nichols on piano and Tim Applegate on the drumset.

Composers Bobby Troup and Neal Hefti collaborated on the wonderful ballad, “Girl Talk,” recorded by, among others, the Count Basie Orchestra. Mary-Anne Chesley is featured on alto saxophone in this arrangement by veteran composer Mark Taylor.

A new piece, from composer Lars Halle, “Sonidos De La Calle” (Sounds of the Street) is set in a “tremendously exciting” Latin rhythm, the mambo, Lidral says.  Soloists include students Laura “Zuke” Zukowski on baritone saxophone, Jarrod Bishop on trombone, and Andrew Gerke on trumpet.

“The astute listener will hear a brief quote from a classic swing era big band composition, “The Peanut Vendor,” Lidral adds.

The remainder of the Ensemble’s “book” includes contemporary and classic compositions from Dominic Spera, David Springfield, Bill Liston, Dean Sorensen and Bob Mintze — and some very exciting solos by Justin Obie, trumpet, Rodger Wong, trombone, Christine Sawtelle, piano, and Karl Varian, trumpet, as well as others.

The four pieces to be performed by the Jazz Combo are chosen from eight works that the group has worked on in the fall semester. Those compositions include four by Sonny Rollins (“Oleo,” “Pent Up House,” “St. Thomas” and “Tenor Madness”) and four by Thelonious Sphere Monk (“Blue Monk,” “In Walked Bud,” “‘Round Midnight” and “Straight, No Chaser”), all arranged by Frank Mantooth, a wonderful jazz composer, arranger and pianist who passed away earlier this year. Solos are liberally spread around the organization, and include those from trombonists John Maclaine and Jamie Colpoys, tenor saxophonist Steve Barter, pianist Justin Obie (who plays trumpet in the Jazz Ensemble), and drummers Caleb Wheeler and Jason LaVerdiere.

Tickets are $6, although UMaine students are admitted free with a MaineCard. More information is available by calling the Maine Center for the Arts Box Office at 581-1755 or online at

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