The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts December 15, 2006

New Tradition Brings Jazz Quartet to Feve

Sunday nights in Oberlin have been getting more exciting with what will hopefully be a new tradition. Alto saxophonist Noah Bernstein-Hanley, OC ’06, has been bringing a talented quartet every week to the downstairs dining area at The Feve from around 9 to 11 p.m. Playing live music, their two-set performances have already been stirring up a buzz around town.

Bernstein-Hanley, who works at the popular hangout, describes himself as “somewhat of a self-appointed director of the Sunday night music at The Feve,” and as someone trying to bring Oberlin’s music out of the College and into the town. Such an accomplishment is difficult in a place this small, but Bernstein-Hanley has made a very significant and an already successful step towards that goal.

“Since The Feve is such a central meeting place for both students and townspeople anyway,” Bernstein-Hanley explained, “I thought it would be a great location to get live music up and running again. It turns out the acoustics of the room are killer, too, which is an excellent added bonus.”

Last Sunday, the quartet — which features sophomore Chris Mees on bass, junior Alex Ritz on drums and sophomore Rafiq Bhatia on guitar — was tight and expansive, playing intense originals by Bernstein-Hanley and Bhatia. Bernstein-Hanley’s untitled piece took interesting steps.

“The piece is very new and still maybe rough around the edges, but it’s my latest attempt at molding jazz to some different forms and sounds,” said Bernstein-Hanley.

Bhatia’s compositions that were featured that evening were everything from hip to epic, but the group has been learning material in lump fashion by composer; John Coltrane was featured one night, Charles Mingus another. Threading concerts in this fashion is very attractive for listeners and will hopefully keep the regulars and draw in more fans.

The Feve is still very much inside the infamous “Oberlin bubble,” but it is certainly a step outside from the Cat in the Cream or the ’Sco. Despite their music being very close to the avant-garde, Bernstein-Hanley seems to understand what needs to be done for audiences.

“The first time I went in there, people were giving me and the band some looks,” he remembered. “Since then, the Sunday night music scene has gained a large following of eager ears, which is comforting.”

While the listening crowd has still mostly been students, the band has been noticing more and more non-students coming out and enjoying themselves, an excellent sign for this new happening. Giving confidence to the idea that Sunday night jazz at the Feve may be here to stay, the group has every intention of keeping the music alive as long as they possibly can.


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