Small Jazz Ensembles
If solo jazz aspires to the highest form of individualism, and if big band jazz embodies the soul of unbridled but organized expression, the small jazz ensemble is a rich gumbo that can taste like either. A jazz form in and of itself, this configuration is ideal for bringing together musicians of many levels in a happy coexistence. The accomplished improviser can polish skills and push on into uncharted territory, while the neophyte gets the hang of things, waiting for the moment to step out in front for a brief foray into the fast rushing stream. Sink or swim, for musicians the small jazz group is a challenge and a thrill that cannot be matched.
Jazz mentors from the music department each lead a group, and each group has its own distinct sound and feel. Andy Jaffe, director of jazz activities at Williams, presents a jazz combo that often includes tunes and arrangements written especially for the occasion, but not excluding the standards that underpin the style. Avery Sharpe, celebrated jazz artist who has played with such greats as McCoy Tyner and Pat Metheny, leads a group that immerses itself in jazz standards from Dizzy Gillespie and John Coltrane and beyond.