Last Tuesday night, the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Music presented the URI Jazz Collective and URI Standards Combo ensembles for an evening filled with swinging melodies at the campus’ Fine Arts Center.

After an introduction by the Collective’s alto saxophonist and flute player, Taylor Allen, the evening kicked off with the upbeat “Happy Winter”, a song written by their own guitarist, Keaton Nelson.

The URI Jazz Collective who took the stage about a little after their 7:30 p.m. start time, wearing all black. The group, coordinated by Mark Berney, includes seven members. Allen, Nelson, William Chilton (trumpet), Manual Morales (trumpet), Alyssa Oates (trombone), Jeremy Klepacki (bass) and Nicolas Motroni (drums) make up the company. Three out of the five performances were songs orchestrated by the students mentioned previously. The other two productions arranged by junior jazz trumpeter Morales.

From left to right, Collective members: Manuel Morales, William Chilton, Taylor Allen and Alyssa Oates - Credit: Taylor Nicholson/The Good 5 Cent Cigar
From left to right, Collective members: Manuel Morales, William Chilton, Taylor Allen and Alyssa Oates – Credit: Taylor Nicholson/The Good 5 Cent Cigar

The second song in the lineup was “Look to the Sky” by Antonio Carlos Jobim. This “latin groove”-styled arrangement included light and slow drum work by Motroni and heavy trombone playing by Oates. The audience was eager to applaud after the performance and for all of Oates’ efforts.

The background of the B101 Concert Hall switched colors multiple times throughout the night and seemingly matched the tones of all of Tuesday’s performances. A gold hue accompanied “Filch” a “minor blues” tune. This piece featured numerous instruments including the flute, trumpet, bass and guitar.

“When Sunny Gets Blue” was the next set in the program and slowed things down quite a bit. A “nice ballad” as described by Allen featured a saxophone solo by him as well and took place right at the end of the song.

The Collective’s last performance was “Debut” a piece created by “kick drummer” Motroni. The fast-paced swing style song was comprised of lots of playing by Morales, which received multiple audible “wows” from the audience. Motroni himself had his own solo towards the end of the performance.

The night continued when the Standards Combo went on stage with no introduction under coordination of David Zinno.

The URI Standards Combo ensemble performs a song - Credit: Taylor Nicholson/The Good 5 Cent Cigar
The URI Standards Combo ensemble performs a song – Credit: Taylor Nicholson/The Good 5 Cent Cigar

Cody Poulin exploded on the drums with “One for Daddio” to begin the last portion of the jazz ensemble. The group, which consists of Poulin, Patrick O’Donnell (trumpet), Andrew Hellwig (alto saxophone), Michael Grenier (tenor and soprano saxophone), Collin Larkin (tenor saxophone), Austin Coley (guitar) and Evan Magno (bass), continued the evening with multiple fast paced songs and high energy throughout all of their performances.

Performing five songs in total, Standards only played one slower song titled “Chelsea Bridge”. The highlight performance was “I Mean You” in which the company was all smiles and happily jammed along to the rhythms and beats of the jive-y harmonies.

The next event for the Fine Arts Center Concert Hall will be tonight, April 23, at 8 p.m. in which the URI Jazz Big Band will perform under director Jared Sims. General admission is $12, students and seniors $7 and children 12 years old and under free.