It is the season of concerts and performances in the Fine Arts Department, and the Jazz Ensemble will bring the blues this Tuesday in the Marsh Center. Director of the Jazz Ensemble and instructor of music at Waynesburg University, Jeremy Olisar, is planning to tell a unique story with his music. With the help of theater professor and “Farce of Nature” director Eddie Powers as the narrator, Olisar has fabricated a story based on the titles of his selected songs.
“All of the pieces themselves were never intended to be together,” Olisar said. “But I think through that storyline, it’s going to weave a story for the audience to be able to think about and imagine in their minds as we’re playing the pieces together.”
Olisar was inspired to tell a story because of the piece “Federal Blues Express,” which Olisar often misarticulated as “Federal Express Blues,” thinking of the American courier company, FedEx. He then looked at the other titles and went on to link them together.
One of the pieces, titled “Ods All Night Diner,” will connect with a FedEx delivery driver dining after a long workday, followed by “Stolen Moments” and “Freddie Freeloader” and others. All of these will be intertwined to one plotline and told by the voice of Eddie Powers.
“[Musicians] are creating art from nothing,” Olisar said. “That’s very personal to them, they’re taking their thoughts and taking what’s in their mind and then communicating that message to the audience on their own.”
Olisar wants to tie something different into this jazz concert with his narrative approach.
“Why not add an element of theatrics and combine another element of the fine arts into jazz,” Olisar said.
The story told through narration is one part of the performance, but the individual musicians in the ensemble have the opportunity to convey their own story through, as Olisar described it, an “integral component” of jazz: improvisation.
“They can come up with something completely original, or they can ‘kind of’ steal quotes of melodies and find ones that fit into the structure of the piece,” Olisar said. “You might have all these ideas going on inside your head and you might want to start playing around with them.”
Electric bass player in the ensemble and sophomore computer science information technology major Stuart Gillum, is in his second year in the Jazz Ensemble and is very appreciative of Olisar as a director.
“He’s a lot of fun [Olisar],” Gillum said. “He’s really invested in it. You can tell by how he acts with us.”
Gillum commended Olisar’s directing style on how he walks through each song while, “chanting along,” the parts. Olisar would use a, “doo, dit, doo, dit,” pattern to articulate the rhythm and use variations like, “dat, dot,” to emphasize accents.
Olisar described the rhythm section of the ensemble as, “key,” and lauds Jim DePriest, multimedia specialist at the university, for his immense help with the rhythm section.
Performing in this ensemble will be mostly Waynesburg University students, but there will also be four members of the Fine Arts Academy involve. Three members are from the town of Waynesburg, and one is from Jefferson, Pennsylvania.
The Jazz Ensemble will open the Marsh Center doors at 7:00 p.m. for their 7:30 p.m. performance on Tuesday, Nov. 12, with free entrance.