Dmitri Matheny, Chris McCourey, and Jonathan Gewirtz | Courtesy McCourey

Gianna Marchese and the Hillcats will be singin’ and swingin’ their way through the 2016 – 2017 school year in prepa­ration for the release of their newest album next fall.

The Hillcats, the college’s faculty jazz band, will record their spin on a col­lection of American stan­dards, fea­turing Marchese, a senior, as their jazz vocalist.

“Our arrange­ments are fan­tastic,” Marchese said. “When it all comes together, it’s going to be a really great work of art and soul.”

Marchese said she has learned even more about jazz throughout the album-making process as the Hillcats rehearse, perform, and record.

“Working with Chris [McCourry] and getting to be a part of the process of cre­ating new arrange­ments of old songs has been a really edu­ca­tional and cool expe­rience,” Marchese said. “Not to mention my voice teacher, Sunny Wilkinson, who con­tinues to inspire my jazz voice every time we get together to sing.”

Chris McCourry, the director of jazz ensembles, said he rec­og­nizes Marchese’s talent and ded­i­cation to the jazz department.

“I’m so happy to be able to do this CD,” McCourry said. “I hope that someday her grand­children will be able to hear her.”

This album is not the only evi­dence of a vibrant jazz program: stu­dents can audition for a number of ensembles and take private lessons.

“Everyone is invited to par­tic­ipate and learn about this great art form,” jazz pianist Arlene McDaniel said. “Jazz is a chance for musi­cians to create what is in their heart and soul without the restric­tions of tra­di­tional music that is all notated and must be played the same way each time.”

Junior pianist Giannina Imperial, said she enjoys the freedom jazz gives her to create some­thing new and per­sonal out of some­thing old and standard.

“Jazz gives us so much freedom and license to make any bit of music com­pletely new and totally our own,” Imperial said. “The part­nership between the clas­sical and ‘jazzical’ creates this really vibrant and fun music scene on campus.”

The Hillcats’ most recent release was “Hon­ey­suckle Rose” in 2012. The album included popular jazz stan­dards such as “Peel Me a Grape,” “Thou Swell,” and “Little Sun­flower.”

“Jazz isn’t just a music genre for ‘old people’ — everyone can enjoy it,” Marchese said. “It’s a force that can bring together many gen­er­a­tions of music lovers.”