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The Swarthmore College Jazz Ensemble’s Spring 2023 Concert

On Sunday, April 16th, the Swarthmore college Jazz Ensemble will hold their end-of-semester concert in the Lang Music Concert Hall. Directed by Andrew Neu, the ensemble performs a wide repertoire of both traditional and contemporary music arranged for big band. 

Andrew Neu is a renowned multi-genre musician that plays jazz, R&B, classical and Latin music. He is a saxophonist, woodwind player, music arranger, composer, and recording artist who has toured the world and performed with the likes of Elton John and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Neu has been at Swarthmore since 2014 and conducts the Jazz Ensemble along with teaching saxophone lessons. He occasionally coaches combos and smaller chamber groups. 

The Jazz Ensemble practices once a week, on Tuesdays from 7-10 pm and is open to all students who play an instrument and are interested. Music students from other area colleges and Swarthmore community members are also welcome to join. The ensemble performs in various formats, sometimes as a traditional big band, and sometimes in smaller combo groups. Last spring, the ensemble played alongside acclaimed American saxophonist Branford Marsalis and his Quartet in their concert. 

“Despite not having an audition process for the ensemble, Swarthmore students are really conscientious about making sure that any endeavor they take on, they’re ready for it. That’s one of the things I love about working here, they are all in with whatever they choose to do,” Neu expressed. 

At the upcoming event, the Jazz Ensemble will feature vocalist and ensemble member Meg Ozawa ‘23.  

“It’s nice to be able to mix things up by having a vocalist in there. It helps to connect with the audience a little more when you have someone that gets to communicate directly with them,” Neu said. 

The ensemble will perform traditional Jazz standards, but will also pull from what Neu likes to call the “new American songbook.” They will perform a piece by Stevie Wonder, Knocks Me Off My Feet sung by Ozawa and featuring Jack Spector ’25 on tenor sax, as well as the opening instrumental theme from the popular anime, Cowboy Bebop, titled Tank!, featuring pianist Isshin Yunoki ’25.

“It’s been so much fun working and growing as a musician with this group. This performance is the culmination of a lot of hard work, and I personally think it shows in our sound,” said Jonathon Cubus ‘26, who plays the drum set in the ensemble. 

The Jazz Ensemble performs at the Lang Concert Hall in the Lang Music Building at Swarthmore College on April 16th, Sunday, at 7:30pm. The event is free and open to the public, no reservations are required. 

“It's a wonderful hall, the sound is incredible and the sightlines are all really great. It’s definitely a concert worth coming to,” Neu says.