On Friday, December 1, the SNHU and Saint Anselm’s Jazz bands congregated in the Last Chapter Pub in front of a packed house. The crowd consisted of both students and non-students alike, a convening of jazz enthusiasts. The room was void of the “academic vibe” that so often consumes on-campus events, and it was apparent that the attendees weren’t there due to obligation.

The Saint Anselm Jazz Band began playing at 5 p.m. and put on a half hour set. The dozen-member group played a few jazz standards, as well as a couple holiday tunes, such as “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” and “Blue Christmas,” the latter of which being sung by Saint Anselm senior Ryan Dumont.

When Ryan Dumont was asked half-jokingly, if he felt any tension on rival ground, through a smile, he answered, “On the basketball court and the hockey rink, for example, SNHU and Saint A’s are huge rivals. As for the music scene, we’ve never felt tension. It’s great to get together with the SNHU Jazz band, which doesn’t happen too often due to conflicting schedules.”

At about 5:30 p.m., the smaller SNHU Jazz Band took the stage. The lineup consisted of piano, bass guitar, drums, saxophone, clarinet and cornet. The chemistry amongst the members exuded throughout the performance. Each member took turns soloing, and each was constantly communicating through eye contact and body language, even while playing.

The SNHU Jazz Band. (image credit: Jaelle Matthieu)

Doug Gavelek a third-year student at SNHU said, “If you want to be a good jazz player, you have to be around and play with other good jazz players.” He emphasized how “soloing only works if the support of the whole group is there.”

Second-year SNHU student Hailey Francouer offered a standout performance on vocals, though she also offered her drum talent.

When asked about her musical talents, Francouer said, “Drums and vocals are my primary instruments, meaning I spend the most time practicing and performing on those. I also play piano, guitar, and I can play a bit of trombone and flute.”

Francouer acted as the SNHU Jazz ambassador, buttering up the crowd in preparation for tunes. She shared with the pub, “As jazz musicians, you never quite know what’s gonna happen until you get on stage.”

For many, the highlight of the night was Hailey Francouer’s heavenly scat singing. When asked if the scatting is planned, or created on the spot, Francouer said, “Scatting is the vocal form of improvisation, so everything that I did was completely improv. In some cases, vocalists will use scat syllables to sing a melody without lyrics, and in that case it isn’t improvised. The only difference between my scatting and a horn player’s is that I don’t have buttons so all the notes I’m hitting I am hearing within what the piano and bass are playing for chords.”

After playing a number of jazz standards including “Take the A Train” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing,” SNHU Jazz rocked the house with a cover of “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes that fluctuated between loud, soft, louder, softer and ended with a booming finale.

After SNHU Jazz finished their set, both groups performed a tune together, a tune they had never practiced, exemplifying the immense talent spread between the groups.

Travis Burke, jazz enthusiast, loves to bring his passion for all things art to the Penmen Press. For insight into more art, music and on-campus cultural events and speakers, check out Travis’ review of the McInich Art Gallery Exhibit, “The Walls of Fantasy Landia” or his review of Jayne Anne Phillip’s trip to SNHU.

Travis Burke
Travis Burke is a senior studying creative writing and art history. It is his first year on staff. He's mainly written for Arts and Entertainment, falling in line with his studies. In his spare time, he reads and writes down by the Merrimack River. Also enjoys doing handstands and going top cheese, bar down.