Experience Music Like Never Before at Fredonia Faculty Jazz Collective’s ‘Open Rehearsals’

(L to R): Kieran Hanlon and Dr. Nick Weiser.
(L to R): Kieran Hanlon and Dr. Nick Weiser.

Article Contributed by
The State University of New York at Fredonia

Recognizing that jazz is both a spontaneous and a social music, the newly formed Fredonia Faculty Jazz Collective is launching a string of open rehearsals at the State University of New York at Fredonia and inviting the campus and surrounding community to experience this uniquely American music at its core.

Nick Weiser, head of Jazz Studies in the School of Music, patterned the collective after a jazz trio he formed while teaching at Ithaca College. “It’s something that I wanted to create and develop here, as a way of modeling a jazz trio for students and faculty interested in jazz,” Dr. Weiser explained. “We’re playing not just jazz,” he added, “but American popular music and that applies to contemporary music as well.”

Getting jazz out into the area is an ultimate goal of the group, said Weiser, a pianist. Joining him in the trio are School of Music colleagues Kieran Hanlon, double bass; and Alec Dube, drums.

Open rehearsals – to be held on most Tuesday afternoons in Rosch Recital Hall for the rest of the spring semester – will provide a rare opportunity for audiences to experience music as it’s “workshopped” in an informal setting. “Normally rehearsals are closed to the public, and opening them up is just an opportunity for people to see our process,” Weiser explained. “We bring in new material and play it, and occasionally we struggle with it.”

The first open rehearsal will be held on Tuesday, March 6, at 1 p.m. in Rosch Recital Hall. Sessions are scheduled on March 20 and 27, with additional rehearsals, also Tuesdays, to be arranged in April. All sessions are free and open to the public.

Weiser’s trio at Ithaca initially workshopped music at the college and then shifted to the Argos Inn, a downtown venue, steadily building an audience along the way.

“I saw how well we were able to bring jazz into the community there, and we developed an amazing following in Ithaca by putting a fresh stamp on familiar music and creating an environment people were eager to attend, week after week,” he said.

Weiser has been a member of several jazz trios, so he’s performed with different bassists and drummers. The tastes and experiences of each of these groups allow him to continue playing some of the same material, but with fresh new ideas.

“What’s so amazing is that it continues to evolve and develop any time another person gets involved and puts their stamp on it,” Weiser said. “It’s exciting for me to bring this trio project to Fredonia.”

“My hope is that this will gain some traction, and that it will become a weekly event that people will want to attend to hear high-quality music and music-making,” Weiser said. “It’s an informal thing, which I think is part of the appeal. That’s what I’m trying to create here, with the eventual aim of bringing this trio into the community,” he added.

“Jazz is already a spontaneous music, but it’s also a social music, and I would argue that it’s less useful to us to rehearse behind closed doors. (When we’re doing that) we’re not tapping into the social tradition of the music.”