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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Jazz ensemble kicks off season with new director

    Kyle Hansen
    Kyle Hansen / The Daily Wildcat The Studio Jazz Ensemble rehearses in the U of A School of Music on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. The Studio Jazz Ensemble will perform their first concert on Wednesday, Oct. 8.

    The new director of the UA Studio Jazz Ensemble, Angelo Versace, is conducting the UA School of Music’s first jazz concert of the semester today at 7:30 p.m.

    Versace, originally from a small town in Pennsylvania, is a pianist who honed his talent playing in a jazz trio with his friends.

    Now an internationally recognized musician, Versace settled down in Tucson after accepting a full-time assistant professor position in jazz studies in the UA School of Music.

    Having played on stages all over the world, Versace’s jazz talent has stretched from the Netherlands to Louisiana. Versace has worked with talented artists such as Chris Potter, Gloria Gaynor and Kevin Mahogany and is the 2012 recipient of the Phillips Jazz Piano Competition.

    Additionally, he is a recorded artist, having produced Ming and Pretty Girl, his first two albums. He has also recorded multiple albums with other jazz artists, including the 2007 album with alto saxophonist Keith Young, Saxophone Voices from Five Countries, and his 2008 collaboration with guitarist Jerry Hahn to produce the album Jazz Hymns.

    Versace has also produced and arranged with trumpeter Augie Haas on the album ENDless and has appeared on the Khristian Dentley’s album Khristian 3.0, released in 2013 with some of Versace’s arrangements.

    “I’m thrilled to be a part of U of A’s musical talent,” Versace said, “and it has been a rewarding experience teaching and learning from my students.”

    Versace earned his bachelor’s degree in jazz performance from William Paterson University and recently completed his doctoral musical arts degree in 2013 from the University of Miami.

    Practicing three times a week for 20 rehearsals a semester, the UA Studio Jazz Ensemble’s performance can be expected to be of the highest quality and musical execution.

    The ensemble consists of five saxophones, five trombones, four trumpets and three rhythm players.

    The concert will be split into two different parts, with the first consisting of a small seven-person ensemble playing three or four songs. Then, a brief intermission with the big band’s rendition will follow.

    Influenced by Versace’s love of jazz, the song selection for the concert varies from big band and jazz artists, including Thadd Jones and Bob Mintzer. The song list includes “Big Dipper, a Child is Born,” “Pots and Pans,” “April in Paris,” “Whodunit” and “Samba del Gringo.”

    Improvisation is a crucial part of being able to play the jazz genre. According to Versace, it helps a musician develop their own groove and vibe by developing an unknown or ambiguous aspect of performance.

    The UA Studio Jazz Ensemble has been entertaining southern Arizona since 1972, and Versace took over as director after Jeff Haskell retired from the position last spring.

    The ensemble will be playing at Crowder Hall on 1017 N. Olive Rd., and tickets are $10.


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