Winter is upon us. The sun hides itself by 5:00 pm and the cold air sets in. Tonight, with temps hovering around 12 degrees, that time was best spent indoors. After a long day at work, my partner and I felt it best to enjoy a more artistic (and indoor) view of the Adirondack Coast. One year ago when I started blogging I stated that I hear too often that there is “nothing to do here”. I think the last 48 posts I have made makes it pretty obvious that there is, in fact ,plenty to do here. Not all of my readers have the ambition to run out and rent a kayak for a day or take a hike, so tonight this is for you.
Sitting proudly in the center of Plattsburgh you’ll find the campus of The State University of New York at Plattsburgh. Inside these academic walls are numerous stages and galleries that many people I speak with know little about. These spaces are occupied by the likes of artists from all over the world, traveling exhibitions, and one incredible museum space. I will highlight more of this space as the cold winter nights carry on.
Tonight my partner and I enjoyed the Winter Jazz Concert directed by Dr. Rick Davies.The Winter jazz Concert was a free jazz show for all (my favorite price). Dr. Davies is a professor of music at Plattsburgh State University and has worked all around the world. Joining tonight’s jazz group was the world-renowned vibraphonist Warren Chiasson who is highly regarded in the jazz world for his distinctive four mallet technique.
We arrived minutes before the start to find our seats. Only a few minutes after we were able to take off a few layers from our walk to Hawkins Hall, the lights dimmed. The musicians set up in their places, and with the first sound of the soprano saxophone, every hair on my body stood on end. The trombone of Dr. Davies trumpeted a vibration through my bones and the beat of the drums held it all together in perfect harmony. I thought to myself, “this is why I choose not to have a television”. For a moment I was distracted by my own thoughts of everyone missing out on moments like this. How many people were glued to mindless television programming while I was feeling inside myself the percussion of the instruments before me. that thought quickly faded away while I allowed myself to live in the moment.
The beat, the intensity, and the passion of the artist before us was inspiring to me. First set done, second set done, and in the third set the addition of the vibraphonist Warren Chaisson. I am already enthralled with the brass instruments, that I wonder what this vibraphone will bring. warren Chaisson holds in his hands two blue mallets and two red. With a serious look upon his face I imagine this man to be very severe and very calculated. This severe look is much different from that of the other musicians thus far. Then, as if a switch was turned, he began to play. His expression of severity quickly turned to a playful and exuberant expression one often finds on the faces of children. He smiles and laughs as he plays. I can hear him laughing with expressions of glee over the sounds he has produced. My partner and I can’t help but smile with him and chuckle a bit at this childish enjoyment we see. The other musicians on stage also seem to feed off of his excitement and begin to play along, dancing.
I venture a view of the room to see the emotion around me. The others in the audience are feeding off of this same energy, tapping their feet, moving their bodies, and embracing their partners in the moment. I think to myself again about those outside of these walls missing out on the feeling. The next set begins with the vocals of John Thomas as he fills the room and averts my attention back to the stage. His resonance was perfectly suited to Wayne Chiasson’s time at the piano. Every hair stands at attention again as this duo plays on. I think to myself, briefly, how great it is that I am here in this moment with them.
The first set “Mombo Combo” ends on a high note. My body now relaxed, smile firmly planted on my face, and the lights brightened, it was time for my partner and I to talk about what we just witnessed. I’m not going to go on and on about the second set, because it will bring the same feelings as the last. Although different, I sat completely zoned in on each musicians move while listening to hair-raising notes. Only one hour had passed in the first set. That hour felt like moments as I awaited the next set “Jazz Ensemble” to begin.
Set two, “Jazz Ensemble” begins. Each sounding horn, every feeling inside as the trombone played, or every hair-raising moment as incredible as the last. Rather than describe this, I am going to suggest here that you take a moment and look at the upcoming events at Plattsburgh State University. Pull yourself away from your television sets or super holiday deals, and just enjoy the sounds of the world around you. there’s no super stereo surround sound system capable of bringing you the hair-raising, bone-chilling, deeply emotional feeling that you will find in live music.