Hillsdale College’s faculty jazz ensemble, the Hillcats, invite campus and Hillsdale County to join them for their first performance of the season. The event will be held Friday, Nov. 15 at 8:00 p.m. in the Plaster Auditorium.
According to Jonathon Gerwirtz, who plays saxophone, the group’s performances are usually themed around a particular genre of music or artist. This time, it’s the works of Charlie Parker, an American saxophonist and composer, and Clifford Brown, an American trumpeter.
“Both were innovators of the bebop style on their instruments,” Gewirtz said in an email. “Charlie Parker is probably one of the most influential jazz musicians of modern jazz. It’s his style of playing that has become the sound of bebop. Clifford Brown’s short career — he died at 25 — was filled with some of the most important trumpet solos of the bebop era.”
Hank Horton plays bass for the ensemble. He added that the group tries to put their own spin on each piece.
“We try not to just copy,” he said. “We do what we do with our own styles and arrangements.”
The event is also educational, Horton said.
“We try to do music to expose younger players to musicians they might not have heard of before,” he said. “They might know the songs and not know who wrote them and be like ‘Oh I know that song.’”
Gewirtz said it will be a fun event for musicians especially.
“Bebop is known for being a musician’s music,” he said. “It grew out of the jam sessions where musicians would get together after their gigs and jam for hours into the next morning. The concert this Friday is going to have much of that excitement and energy.”
Horton emphasized that the performance is one that everyone will enjoy.
“There are a lot of great musicians in the Hillcats and anybody who plays would want to see them play and hear the music,” he said. “But even if you’re not a musician, you can still appreciate what it takes to pull something like that off. You’ll be thoroughly entertained even if you don’t leave humming the music.”