A Night of (Good) Dissonance: An impromptu jazz concert review.

It was supposed to be an opera. A group of friends and I had tickets to see “Fedeli d’Amore” at the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus. But when we found out that the Italian opera singers couldn’t travel internationally and that the show was postponed until next year, we thought we made the trek to Philly for nothing.

That was, until jazz saved the day! We got our tickets “exchanged” (and I put that in quotes because we didn’t actually have to hand in our opera tickets) for a jazz concert that was happening in the Zellerbach theater: the Jazz Gallery All-Stars.

The Jazz Gallery All-Stars consist of six musicians: pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist Matt Brewer, saxophonists Miguel Zenón and Melissa Aldana, drummer Kendrick Scott and guitarist Charles Altura. In this show, they also featured a vocalist, Renee Neufville.

In the 105-minute concert, the musicians performed some original pieces by each of the All-Stars and two classic jazz pieces by the Jazz Gallery’s founder Roy Hargrove. Each of these pieces were similar but unique, combining the same dissonant elements of jazz but experimenting with different instruments and tempos.

I was not sure what to expect when sitting down at a jazz concert. I had two images in mind: one was classic jazz music and the other was the jazz band that Ryan Gosling’s character plays with in “La La Land.”

The Jazz Gallery All-Stars shattered my few expectations. Their musical talent was immense. My favorite was Kendrick Scott’s ability to keep multiple beats and tempos with each foot and hand while drumming.

I enjoyed being immersed in jazz culture. With the exception of several other college students that were most likely present for extra-credit for a UPenn music class, my friends and I were the only people under the age of 50 in that theater. The ethnic diversity of the audience was incredible as well. Latin American, Asian American, Black and White human beings lined the cushioned seats.

I learned what I termed “jazz concert etiquette,” which is how the audience reacts at certain points of a song. Each song features solos for specific instruments, and after the solo was finished, the audience clapped for that musician. I trained my ear to listen for each of those solos and clap for the musician once they were finished.

Although unexpected, the Jazz Gallery All-Stars concert was an intellectual, cultural and musical experience I will never forget.

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