The Yale Undergraduate Jazz Collective has announced its three-concert lineup for this term’s Underbrook Series.
The group organizes the concert series by inviting guest musicians to perform in Saybrook College’s Underbrook. The performances, open to all students, expose the community to a range of jazz music. Though many audience members might not formally study jazz music, the concerts “provide a low-key but still artistically engaged way” to spend a Friday night, said Nicholas Serrambana ’20, president of the Jazz Collective.
“The Jazz Collective’s Underbrook Series features professional jazz performances on a campus where there otherwise would not be the opportunity to experience this genre firsthand,” Serrambana said.
The series will open Friday, Feb. 9 with the Chad Lefkowitz-Brown Quartet, featuring tenor saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, pianist Steven Feifke, bassist Tamir Shmerling and drummer Bryan Carter.
Lefkowitz-Brown’s visit will include not only a performance but also a master class in which the visiting performers will answer questions and help teach Yale musicians who volunteer to play for them. According to Hersh Gupta ’20, the Jazz Collective’s student outreach coordinator, the master class will serve as an invaluable opportunity for student jazz musicians to engage with professionals in the genre.
Serrambana said that when booking the Underbrook Series, the group does not focus on recruiting well-known performers; rather, the Jazz Collective selects younger artists, who Gupta noted are more accessible for the student audience. Younger musicians, whose works might be available online, serve as inspiration for him and other students of jazz music, Serrambana added.
“We are bringing in people who are young because these are the musicians students are aware of,” he said. “They are the names who come up as people who are hot players, that you can project yourself onto.”
On Feb. 23, the second concert in the series will feature the E.J. Strickland trio, including drummer E.J. Strickland, pianist Victor Gould and bassist Barry Stephenson. Serrambana said that the drummer is a slightly more experienced artist whose playing will allow listeners to compare styles and techniques with some of the younger performers and consider the recent evolutions of jazz music with greater perspective.
“It’s an honor for us to bring in a more established artist,” Serrambana said, noting that a performer of Strickland’s caliber would not normally appear on a college campus.
On March 9, the final event will feature the Immanuel Wilkins Quartet, comprised of alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, pianist Micah Thomas, bassist Daryl Johns and drummer Kweku Sumbry.
Thomas Hagen ’20, a member of the Jazz Collective, said that Wilkins’ “musical voice has always been beautifully overwhelming.”
Wilkins’ visit to Yale will also feature a jam session during which students will have the unique experience of interacting and collaborating with the visiting performer. For the jam session, Serrambana said, the Jazz Collective hopes Wilkins will “just show up with his horn,” and the students will serve as his band.
“For me, because I am a bassist, I will be playing throughout an entire tune — except in rare cases — so the experience of having to create the music that this person, who is much better than me, has to respond to, is terrifying and extremely educational,” he said.
Wilkins currently studies at the Juilliard School.
Julia Carabatsos | firstname.lastname@example.org