With instruments and stands put in place, the stage was set. Five painted posters, each depicting a man playing an instrument–a set of drums, a trumpet, a bass, a guitar and a saxophone– hung on the walls, three above the stage, and two on the sides–one on the left and one on the right. The Faculty Jazz Recital, hosted on Friday, Feb. 17 in the Alumni Recital Hall, was about to begin.
When the lights dimmed and over 75 audience members had quieted down at around 7:40 p.m., KSC Music Lecturer Scott Mullet walked out onto the stage, yielding his saxophone and introduced the evening.
According to the Vermont Jazz Center’s Faculty section on their website, Mullet, a Berklee School of Music graduate, played with famous musicans such as Tony Bennett and Aretha Franklin. In the past, Mullett toured with musicals such as 42nd Street, as well as other artists like Woody Herman and even worked on a cruise line as the musical director.
During his opening remarks, he welcomed bassist Cameron Brown to the stage.
Brown, who has been working as a musician for more than 50 years, currently works at The New School, a university, located in Manhattan, New York. He has played with numerous artists including Art Blakey, Dannie Richmond, Ted Curson, Joe Locke and Tony Malaby, according to the night’s program, which was handed out to audience members as they entered the hall.
Brown and Mullett began the evening with a duet. Throughout the first song entitled, “The More I See You,” by Harry Warren, Mullet sat in his chair and swayed forward and backward, while alternatingly tapping both of his feet. Brown , on occasion, hunched over his bass.
When the saxophone stopped playing, the bass continued on. Audience members applauded and the bass carried on. With the eventual joining in of the saxophone, the audience clapped, and the two played together again.
With a laugh from Mullett, the piece had ended. Mullet then introduced drummer Joe Hunt who, as stated in the program, “is a jazz drummer, educator, author and historian.”
Hunt has played music alongside Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Joe Lovano and Tal Farlow. In addition to being a musician, Hunt authored a book entitled, “52nd Street Beat,” as written in the program.
During the next piece, Hunt played throughout the entire song, even drumming some short solos. They played “Airegin ” by Sonny Rollins.
Following the piece, Mullet, who now used a microphone, welcomed Russell Hoffman to the stage, whom he met while attending Berklee College of Music.
Hoffmann, the pianist, currently works at Berklee College of Music. In years past, he’s played alongside Jack McDuff, Billy Hart and Bobbie McFerrin. Hoffmann, too, is a published author, writing and co-writing workbooks regarding “keyboard comping,” as well as “ensemble performance,” per the program.
Mullett counted the four musicians off with “a one, two, a one two three,” for their next piece.
The stage had now been filled with all four musicians– Scott Mullett, Cameron Brown, Joe Hunt and Russell Hoffmann.
Throughout the night, Mullet, who spoke for a majority of the interludes, told multiple jokes, some of which regarded Kellyanne Conway and alternative facts.
During one interlude, he began to tell a story about how he and Hunt ran into each other one evening. Hunt, however, asked to take the microphone and told the story from his point of view.
After a few pieces, Mullet addressed the audience, telling them that he was going to sit in the corner for the next song–and he did.
While he rested in the back left corner of the stage, Hoffmann took the lead on “Speak Low.” Hunt and Brown accompanied him.
The performance ended with an up-tempo song called “Super Jet” by Tadd Dameron. After the piece was over, the four stood up and put their arms around each other to address the audience one last time.
One audience member, junior music performance major Jacob Huggins, who has taken a class with Mullett before, commented on the performance.
“They’re all incredible, they’re all absolutely incredible…you can hear all the years and all the time it takes to become what you hear now and that’s what blows my mind is the dedication,” he said.
“It’s like every single one of those guys up there, they play music like they need to breathe… and you can hear it in their playing too… when I’m watching it from a student’s perspective… that’s how good you want to get—or at least I want to get…”
Junior muisc technology major Brandon Lane also attended the concert.
“[The recital] was really nice. I had Scott Mullet as a teacher my sophomore year for music improvisation and he’s a great teacher and a great musician.”
Katie Robinson, a KSC alumna and the educational program coordinator for the Aspire Program, and her husband were among the audience members.
“We love it… Scott Mullett’s a great mentor for so many students at Keene State. We just love to come and see them perform whenever we can,” she said.
The next event hosted by the Music Department will be the Faculty Composers Recital on March 8 in the Alumni Recital Halll .
Alexandria Saurman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org