Jazzy strings: U violinist puts a new spin on old classics

The U’s first jazz violinist, Elizabeth Anderson, dazzled a full house at Dumke Hall on Monday night in her senior recital, a performance that marks the culmination of her years of study at the U.

The performance included not only several different ensembles, but also covered an impressive variety of styles, from traditional jazz to tango.

The evening began with a quartet (featuring Anderson and her electric violin) performing a few works by well-known artists such as John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Anderson wasted no time proving the legitimacy of the jazz violin, despite the U’s lack of an official program. Earning applause and yells even before the end of her solo during the first piece of the night, a Wayne Shorter tune, Anderson’s playing offered a unique twist on the well-known pieces. Her flowing legato passages and percussive chord soloing demonstrated the strengths that are inherent in the violin, but are so often lacking with other instruments.

The performance was augmented after a few tunes by adding recent U graduates Spencer Kellog, Carol Turcotte and Boyd Bement on saxophone, flute and guitar, respectively. This larger ensemble began by playing an original work by Kellog, which was noticeably more contemporary than the standards with which they had begun. The next tune, an arrangement by Kellog of John Coltrane’s “Lonnie’s Lament,” let the group showcase its talent for putting a new spin on old classics.

Following the solo performance, the final two ensembles to play were bands that Anderson has been playing with for some time-Oblivion, a Latin/Tango group, and World Crime League.

Oblivion performed two works by Astor Piazolla, both arranged by Anderson and clarinetist Dave Sulter. The pieces were driven by a strong, underlying Latin pulse that contrasted nicely with the straight-ahead jazz that had preceded it. Anderson once again displayed her virtuosity in her solos, abandoning the melodic style she had used before in favor of a more rhythmically driven approach.

World Crime League performed all original compositions of Kellog and Anderson, as well as enlisting the service of U faculty guitarist Geoffrey Miller. “Mullet Ballet,” the second tune performed by the ensemble, was a 15-minute exploration of chaos, broken up sporadically by soloing from various band-members.

After a warning that “we sometimes get a little loud” from Anderson, the band played its last tune, “Chupacaba’s Love Muffin.” With the help of drummer Mason Aeschbasher, the concert ended with a definite bang.

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