REVIEW: “Experiments in Pop” faculty jazz quintet




“We’re doing what jazz musicians do,” said Director of Jazz Studies Matt Pivec to open tonight’s performance at the Schrott Center for the Arts. “We’re taking beautiful songs and destroying them before your very eyes.”

“Experiments in Pop” was a collaboration tonight, Sept. 18, between the Butler Jazz Studies faculty and the Indy Jazz Fest. It featured the music of popular artists from Smokey Robinson to Coldplay, but with a jazz take on all of these pieces.

The ensemble consisted of Sandy Williams on guitar, Jesse Wittman on bass, Jon Crabiel on drums, Gary Walters on piano and Pivec on saxophone. Of these performers Pivic, Crabiel, and Walters are faculty at Butler University and Wittman teaches private jazz bass lessons at the university as well.

Each of these musicians are highly accomplished in their respective fields and many of them arranged the pieces that were played tonight.

Though the ensemble had a simple set up that rarely changed throughout the performance, their sound was anything but simple. From Whitman at the back of the stage leaning over his bass to Pivec front and center grooving in time to Walters leaning into the piano keys, the group consistently created new and complex sounds out of familiar songs.

The times that the ensemble did change its simple set was to leave more room on stage for the music to carry.

During a rendition of The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” arranged by Williams, Pivec stepped off stage, creating a quartet and entirely different sound than had been heard previously.

Slightly less full, but no less complex, this piece featured instruments traditionally found in the rhythm section, giving it a more laid back quality.

The performances only conspired of about six pieces and lasted an hour. Each piece featured solos from the performers currently on stage.

After the show, freshman Lindsay Trameri said, “I was pleasantly surprised by the contemporary music. It’s music I know and like.”

However, this musical style may not be for everyone. One attendee left early saying, “I’m going to go home and listen to the Beatles.”