Faculty jazz group to perform Miles Davis’ music

In Arts & Entertainment, Music

The Meng Concert Hall will soon be reverberating with the cool sounds of jazz legend Miles Davis played by Cal State Fullerton music professors.

The annual Faculty Jazz Group will perform sets of Davis’ quintessential album Birth of the Cool Tuesday, Oct. 8.

Birth of the Cool released in 1957 by Capitol Records, is a compilation of three previously recorded sessions by Davis.

“Cool” is used to describe a particular style of jazz music, which is softer and smoother than its contemporary counterpart bebop jazz.

Miles Davis spearheaded the cool jazz movement, which integrates classical music and involves a wider variety of instruments.

The Birth of the Cool album has been recognized as one of the most important pieces of cool jazz and the album that put Davis on the map.

Chuck Tumlinson, director of jazz studies and music professor, said the album’s recordings were taped in the late 1940s at the rise of the era of cool jazz.

Usually played in nonets (a nine-piece), this new style is “the best of both worlds” Tumlinson said, compared to big band jazz composed of anywhere between 12 to 20 members, while other classic forms of jazz might only involve five.

Tumlinson is looking forward to the performance and commented on how much fun last semester’s faculty performance was.

As a jazz history professor, he appreciates the significance the album holds and how special it can be to perform it.

“As a trumpet player, I’m playing Miles Davis’ parts … it’s just so fun to place yourself in there and play these things that I’ve listened to so much over the years,” Tumlinson said.

Bill Cunliffe is the leading faculty member of the jazz group.

He conducts the Fullerton Jazz Orchestra, the Fullerton Jazz Big Band and the Fullerton Latin Ensemble.

In addition to his role as an instructor, Cunliffe is also a Grammy award-winning musician who has been well received in the world of music.

He won a Grammy in 2009 for Best Instrumental Arrangement for “West Side Story Medley,” and was nominated last year for Best Instrumental Composition for his Overture.

Other faculty members performing Tuesday include Kye Palmer (trumpet), Joey Sellers (trombone), Luther Hughes (bass), Ron Eschete (guitar), Paul Kreibich (drums), Chris Bartz (alto saxophone) and Jeff Ellwood (tenor).

Student musician Glen Turner will also play among the pros on the baritone sax.

Cunliffe said in addition to the group’s Birth of the Cool covers, the performance will also include compositions inspired by the album, as well as an original piece by Cunliffe himself.

The song was written in dedication to the late Andy Simpkins, a bassist recognized as one of the greats in the jazz industry.

Cunliffe said he wrote the song a few years ago and named it “Sweet Andy.”

The Faculty Jazz Group plays together once a year, and Cunliffe has taken part in it since his start here at Fullerton, seven years ago.

Don’t miss this chance to hear Davis’ album played live by Fullerton’s most talented musicians. The concert starts at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Tickets for the annual Faculty Jazz Group are $13 with an advanced Titan discount and $15 at the door.

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