Joe Negri visits Carnegie Hall
It's a rare treat to play with someone considered a jazz guitar legend, but Carnegie Mellon's 6:30 Band got to do just that this past Wednesday night. Joe Negri, a jazz guitarist also known to younger audiences for his appearances on [ITAL]Mister Rogers' Neighborhood[ITAL], was the guest artist for the performance at Carnegie Music Hall this past week.
David Pellow directed both his 4:30 and 6:30 Bands through a two-hour performance with a visible passion. His animated persona engaged the audience even before the music had a chance to, and he remained as entertaining as the music itself. The 4:30 Band opened the show with a strong set, including particularly good renditions of Thad Jones' "A Child is Born" and Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat." "A Child is Born" featured first-year CIT student David DeBaun, who played a passionate cadenza on the piano; "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" was the second of a three-part Mingus medley, which featured an impressive tenor sax solo by sophomore Mechanical Engineering major Randolph Scott-McLaughlin II. The last part of the Mingus medley brought senior computer science major Eli Gwynn to the front of the stage for an extended, energetic performance on the baritone sax.
It wasn't until after the 6:30 Band played a few songs that Negri made his big appearance, playing an amped acoustic through Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose," which was followed by what were likely the two strongest sets, Charlie Christian's "Solo Flight" and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Corcavado." Allison Decker provided beautiful vocals for "Corcavado," a Portuguese piece. Two other stand-out performances of the night came from Lyle Chamberlain, a graduate student in the Robotics Institute, on tenor sax, and Bob Kircher, a senior music major, on trumpet.
The highlight of the night may well have been the impromptu duet between Negri and Pellow, with Pellow on bass. Together, they played a well-synchronized rendition of jazz standard "All the Things You Are," showing their abilities to anticipate the other's next move. "I would make it a point to own a recording of this concert if for no other reason than to have a recording of that song," said Gwynn.
The performance satisfied its players as well as its audience. Following the duet, Pellow announced to the audience, “I can die now.”