The UT Jazz Band and Studio Orchestra hosted a performance featuring Harvie S, a renowned jazz bassist who has decades of experience in the music business and now serves as the Jazz Ambassador for the United States. The event took place on Tuesday night in the Cox Auditorium of the Alumni Memorial Building.
Presented by the School of Music, the performance had three different parts. S started the show performing with the ensemble, with the jazz band, then with a few members of the faculty and finished the show with a solo performance.
“It’s always fun to play with someone as good as him because he knows what he’s doing,” said Garrit Tillman, sophomore in studio music and jazz who played a drum set along side S in the ensemble performance.
Known for his original music and work done with fellow artists like Chet Baker and Tony Bennett, S is also currently a professor of jazz bass ensemble at Manhattan School of Music, undergraduate and graduate divisions. S said that he experienced some intense moments during his performance.
“I love when I get into the music and I leave the world and the only thing that is left is me and the music,” S said. “I had a couple of moments like that tonight where I just got into the music and forgot about everything else. That’s the real fun of music, getting as deep into it as you can.”
The relationship between the drums and the bass is key to a good jazz performance, which put more pressure on Tillman even after multiple rehearsals and individual practice time.
“At first when he came I was afraid I was going to be really stressed out,” Tillman said. “Being a drummer and him being a bassist, there’s a lot of communication with those two instruments but it turned out that it was a whole lot easier to play with him, it was a lot more fun. “
Inna Karsheva, sophomore and violin performance major, said she enjoyed the performance and the different parts of the show.
“It was pretty much awesome,” Karsheva said. “(Harvie S) is amazing, he feels so good on the stage. All of them worked really hard and the results are always good and amazing, all of them are really good musicians.”
S said he enjoyed performing all different parts of the concert and felt right at home, musically, with his fellow performers for the night.
“They’re top quality musicians, they’re as good as the guys I play with in New York,” S said. “It felt great, it felt like I was home and playing with great musicians, it was a lot of fun.”
Mainly studying, practicing and performing classical music, Karsheva also sings jazz and said that she appreciates jazz for the genre of music that it is.
“In classical music we don’t improvise so much, we are used to playing with sheet music a lot,” Karsheva said. “Of course when we have concerts we play by memory but it’s a little bit different with jazz improvisations. When you play classical music it’s more like there’s a frame, and with jazz music it’s like the frame is gone.”
Aspiring musicians need to keep improving their work and be dedicated in order to really succeed in the music business, S said.
“You have to be totally dedicated, you have to learn everything you can and you have to work really hard and not expect anything right away, because there’s a lot of competition,” S said. “Just always get better and work hard, and things will come to you. Play the music, learn all the skills, learn how to read, learn how to play the instrument well, learn the history of the music you want to play, really learn as much as you can and that will really help you. And learn how to teach, because you’re going to need to teach to survive and pay the bills.”
Karsheva often performs in the Cox Auditorium for orchestral events within the School of Music and said she wishes more people would attend.
“For this type of concert, especially one that is free, I expect to see more people here, but it’s always like that for all the UT recitals and concerts, which is kind of sad,” Karsheva said. “The concerts are free and it’s awesome music and all of us that perform, we are students and other students can hear what music students can do here. We’re not just carrying our cases around campus, we practice a lot and there are results.”
Tillman, who also performs in special events for the School of Music, said he was discouraged by the lack of students at the free events.
“I’m kind of pissed because I thought a lot more people would come,” Tillman said. “Although a lot of people that would actually come to this stuff was playing. There are a bunch of people involved with all this but I think there are people who should be here who aren’t, especially in the studio, but it’d be cool to get some other people here too, outside people.”
S has performed in multiple venues and festivals including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and the Berlin Jazz Festival in Germany. Despite his experience traveling, S said he plans on returning to Knoxville soon.
“The people are very friendly, the food is great, the weather is nice, so there’s a lot of things, and this university is fantastic, so all in all I can’t see anything wrong with this place, it’s fun and it’s a great place to be,” he said.
Overall, Tillman said he enjoyed playing with S on a big stage.
“It was probably some of our best runs that we’ve done as an ensemble, it sounded really good,” he said.
S said he also felt good about the performance.
“I may not be the best judge but I think we had a good crowd,” S said. “I think everybody was very receptive, and when we get an encore, I’m thrilled.”