The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday March 25th

New York quartet jazzes up Hill Hall

Among the group members are pianist David Berkman, drummer Gene Jackson, saxophonist Tim Armacost and bassist Michael Janisch. The group has been performing for nine years and travels internationally to share its unique style of standard tunes blended with modern jazz.

“We’re excited about every aspect with this new album,” Berkman said. “We’re also very excited because this new record has received a lot of attention here and in the U.K.”

The New York-based quartet has developed a unique voice in its approach to playing music, thanks to its members’ individual talents.

“After years of playing professionally and touring globally as leaders and sidemen, the members of New York Standards Quartet each bring the experience and ears of veteran players to the bandstand,” said Jim Ketch, UNC’s director of jazz studies.

For Armacost, the importance of music reaches back to a young age.

“I heard an indoor-outdoor concert, Benny Goodman, when I was 8 years old,” he said. “I loved the sound of that music and told myself I’m going to start playing clarinet — and I did.”

The members’ ability to play individually influences their ability to play with each other.

“This knowledge of each other plays out on the bandstand in a million small and intricate ways,” Ketch said.

Ketch is excited for students to be exposed to artists who so freely use collaboration and improvisation to create new music. He also said the audience members will be seated on the stage with the artists, giving them a unique and intimate experience with the music.

“They have a command of the music and a deep command of their instruments,” Ketch said. “This ‘in the moment’ playing allows for any person in the band to become a lead voice whether for a brief measure in the music or over an extended chorus or solo.”

Armacost and Berkman have been to UNC before and have worked with students to develop skills. Armacost even played a part in a UNC Jazz Band album, composing one of the recorded pieces.

“We get to meet the students and answer questions,” Berkman said. “We talk about how the band works and what our lives are like as jazz musicians.”

The band members said they take pride in bringing jazz to the academic environment and teaching young artists.

“It’s kind of tradition passed down from older players to younger players,” Berkman said. “It’s always an evolutionary process, always developing.”

Ketch hopes that the UNC Department of Music will use the stylings of the NYSQ in its teaching.

“We will be excited to hear what they are creating and how we might incorporate some of their ideas as composers, arrangers and soloists into our own work,” he said.


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