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Ivana Ng '12 Brings Modern Jazz to Campus

Ivana Ng '12 Brings Modern Jazz to Campus  

by Jenny Akchin '10

student jazz ensemble

Trio(Blue) in Bond Hall


During the first weeks of classes, students and music afficianados from Swarthmore and the surrounding community were given a rare treat - a performance by New York jazz ensemble, Trio(Blue). The concert, organized by Ivana Ng '12 and Visiting Associate Professor of Music Drew Shanefield, featured student performers alongside the reputable free jazz ensemble.

The evening began with a solo piano performance by Ben Starr, 09', followed by a student jazz ensemble featuring Marc Engel '09 on trombone, Scott Goldstein '09 on saxophone, Benjamin Rachbach '11 on piano, and Élan Silverblatt-Buser '12 on bass. After a short intermission, Trio(Blue) took the stage, shattering the gentle ambience of the previous performances with their improvised avant jazz stylings. The ensemble is made up of three members: William Hooker on drums, Mark Hennen on piano, and Ras Moshe on saxophone.

Marc Engel '09, Élan Silverblatt-Buser '12, and Scott Goldstein '09

Ng first encountered the trio while working for a monthly newspaper, All About Jazz - New York, last year. As part of her reporting, she was given a chance to attend a jazz festival organized by Hooker, with whom she stayed in touch. When Hooker learned that Ng had been accepted at Swarthmore, he expressed interest in performing at the College, where he had once performed at Olde Club in 2005. Although Ng had never heard the trio play together before, she was very pleased with the performance. "I didn't really know what the trio was going to sound like, because even though they have performed live together before, they've never recorded together," said Ng. "But in the end, it was a fantastic show and the music was amazing."

When asked what motivated her to bring this type of music to campus, Ng cited a lack of modern and avant garde jazz music at the College. "Modern jazz is not something that you hear or see often at Swarthmore, or any college campus for that matter," she noted. "As a freshman here, I'm still navigating the Philadelphia jazz scene, and so far, there's only been one venue - Ars Nova Workshop - that has been presenting the kind of music I've come to love. So I'm glad I was able to give Swatties a chance to experience modern, free jazz right in their own backyard."

The audience of 125 people provided proof that there is, indeed, a demand for free jazz on campus. "I was really pleasantly surprised by the turnout," remarked Ng, "I had hoped for maybe 20 people...but 125 people came through that night! Truth be told, if Trio(Blue) were playing in a venue in New York...they could expect anywhere from 10 to 50 people coming." Ng hopes to continue working to bring more avant garde music to campus, though not necessarily only in the genre of jazz. "I'm still talking to people about what they thought about the event.