Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra Storms IAJE
Performing at this year's International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) convention in New Orleans this past January was a milestone for the Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra. The 18-piece band, which has rarely played off campus, accepted an invitation to perform at the convention. Despite having their flight delayed by a snowstorm, the band arrived in New Orleans ready to turn up the heat at the convention.
Directed by Professor Greg Hopkins, the orchestra featured some of Berklee's top student players hailing from several states and seven different countries. They received a standing ovation and accolades from many quarters for their performance before an audience estimated at 2,000. Making their way from the bandstand afterward, Hopkins and the players were swarmed by band directors from around the country hoping to obtain their charts, most of which were penned by student arranger/composers.
Jazz Composition Department Chair Ken Pullig, who was in the audience, had high praise for the band's professional approach, tastefulness, and restraint. He described their set as "real soulful jazz--not the musical olympics." Hopkins summed it up, saying, "We gave them a healthy dose of what Berklee is about: great young jazz players performing original jazz compositions with panache."