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Jazz it up for the holiday season

By Zach Lederman
On December 3, 2012

  • UConn student-athletes model the school’s new NCAA college uniforms in Storrs, Conn. The new uniforms come out of a marketing partnership between the school’s athletic department and Nike, which helped design it at no cost to the school. The new uniforms share one cohesive design to unify UConn’s athletic department. Courtesy of the University of Connecticut

On Saturday December 1, Associate Professor and Director of Jazz Studies, Earl MacDonald, presented the annual "Yule Be Swingin'" Christmas-themed jazz concert at von der Mehden recital hall. This show marks the beginning of the Christmas season for the university.

The show, which has been performed annually for the past five years, featured a showcase of jolly, jazzy takes on classic Christmas tunes, from the more adult-oriented tunes like Joy to the World, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and Mel Tormé's Christmas Song, to the ones that inspire remembrances of childhood, like Santa Claus is coming to Town, Walking in a Winter Wonderland, and of course, the obligatory and ever popular Jingle Bells.

The show featured Director MacDonald on Piano, but was otherwise entirely composed of students, with Tom Lee on trumpet, Matt Baum on saxophone, Nick Trautmann on bass, Michael Allegue on drum set, with Charles Eaton singing for a select number of songs.

"I really wanted to use students for this show. These guys are fantastic, and in fact, I've used some of them in gigs prior to this one," MacDonald said about his choice of players, "They're all great to work with, and I'm incredibly proud and pleased with everything they've done. This has been such a fun time."

The show was definitely centered towards families. Little kids squealed to the familiar merry melodies, and seemed astounded when old Saint Nick himself came out with his elven helpers to give out candy canes, take pictures, and give out a few hugs. Ms. Roxanne and her daughter Julia were at the show.

"Loved it! So great for the family!" said Roxanna.

"I thought it was good!" Julia said.

Everyone was encouraged to stand up and sing along to Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland, and others. Parents can rest assured that kids will love the sights and sounds of the show, and will be encouraged to get up and dance to the music, giving an opportunity to sit down and take a break, and enjoy some of your favorite Christmas-time classics.

After each song, the entire recital hall seemed to light up with uproarious applause. However, it wasn't just families and Jazz students that came out to hear the music. Franklin Bravo, a third semester economics and finance major gave a raving review.

"This whole thing was great. I loved how well done the music was. These guys obviously worked so hard. There's such an awesome vibe from the music," he said. "Great reception from the kids, obviously, so it's cool to see the families from the area can come to see what UConn has to offer."

Students and Jazz fans that are interested in hearing more of Director MacDonald's work can hear him perform every Thursday night alongside UConn students at Lu's Café, located in the Family Studies Building. 

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