Black Musicians’ Guild Pays Tribute to Trane
Black History Month was celebrated at Oberlin this year through a variety of events, including last Thursday’s Black Musicians’ Guild concert. Held at Warner Concert Hall, the concert maintained a calm and easygoing atmosphere while still remaining professional and sophisticated — an ideal environment for enjoying jazz music.
The concert began with a classical introduction played by sophomore Ismail Akbar on cello accompanied by junior Jewell Fortenberry on piano. Although this piece was not in the original program, it immediately set the tone for the whole concert: prepare to be wowed by the extraordinary talent these students all possess.
This informal introduction was followed by a flawless rendition of John Coltrane’s “Naima.” First-year saxophonist Arnold Lee, alumnus bassist Marion Parker and senior pianist Phillip Jones II all turned in shining solos, helping to create a beautiful performance that matched this very beautiful song.
The Phillip Jones Trio came next, composed of musicians Phillip Jones, Kassa Overall and Chris Mees. This group’s performance of “Lazy Bird,” also by Coltrane, really stood out and inspired many audience members to tap their feet and bob their heads — a clear sign that they were feeling the music.
After that, Elevation impressed the audience with a collaboration of a number of musicians including the concert’s only female musician, first-year Emma Dayhuff. The other members, sophomores Matt Davis and Will Cleary, juniors Fortenberry and Jay Forman and senior Ricardo Lagomasino, were also exceptional. Elevation performed “Elation” by Mulgrew Miller and “Moontrane” by Woody Shaw.
Finally, the well-known group Perceptegon took the stage to perform the famous “A Love Supreme” by Coltrane. Historically known for its spiritual and cultural significance, “A Love Supreme” was a crucial component of this concert in celebration of Black History Month. Beautifully executed, this performance truly paid homage to Coltrane’s masterpiece and did indeed cast a spell on the audience.
In addition to the amazing showcase of musical talent, there were two very moving spoken word pieces performed by Daphnee Jean-Francois and Jovan Campbell. Daphnee Jean-Francois’s “Black” left the audience breathless and contemplative, while Jovan Campbell’s “Untitled” delivered a serious message and drew roaring applause from the crowd.
Although the hall was not remarkably full at first, perhaps due to the Barrington Levy concert happening later in the night, people continued to trickle in throughout the concert. It was also nice to see children in the audience and know that music speaks to all generations.
Overall, the concert was a wonderful and powerful success. The Black
Musicians’ Guild is a perfect demonstration of the wealth of African
American talent that many people do not realize the Oberlin Conservatory holds.