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 big band or solo jazz. A genre in and of itself, the small band 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 right moment to step out in front to experience an exhilarating brief foray into the fast rushing stream of musical creation. Sink or swim, the small jazz group challenges and thrills thoroughly.
Jazz mentors from the music department each lead a group, and each group has its own distinct sound and feel. Kris Allen, 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. Artist Associate in Trombone John Wheeler leads a group that concentrates on the soul and groove value of their repertoire.