Geller Jazz Legacy Plays on at Wednesday Concert

Monica Sager, Scarlet Staff

The fifth annual Geller Jazz Concert took place on April 4 in the Traina Center for the Arts. The 2018 theme was “A Two Bass Hit,” and it featured Linda Oh and Christian McBride.

Oh started the night off with her band. Playing both double bass and electric bass, she really set the stage for the evening. Her songs told stories, as she described one as being inspired by her friend’s movie and another being about the love story of a man with a stutter.

Oh is an active composer, and she has written music for multiple ensembles and short films. She was so in touch with her instrument that she tuned it mid-song, knowing exactly how off-tune a string was—even if the audience couldn’t recognize it. Oh performed with a pianist, guitarist, and drummer.

Six-time Grammy winner McBride did not disappoint. The Philly-born musician named his band “Christian McBride’s New Jawn” after his hometown’s slang word for “thing.” He performed next to Josh Evans on trumpet; Marcus Strickland on saxophone, who made his first debut with the quartet at Clark; and Nasheet Waits on drums.

McBride was incredible, seamlessly switching from plucking his bass to using a bow mid-song. The solos the band took were mind-blowing. The audience would even call out.

The audience of about 120 people seemed pleased with the whole performance, moving along and nodding their heads to the beat throughout the entire two-hour concert.

A Clark tradition, the Geller Jazz Concerts started five years ago when Selma Geller, a New York City philanthropist, donated to Clark. Her gifts were for music scholarships as well as musical performances.

“One of her passions was connecting particularly young people to great jazz people, [seeing] jazz as an iconic American form,” President David Angel said. “She wanted to use music as an opportunity to broaden young people’s world view, … to expand their sense of wonder.”

The past line-up of musicians lives up to the high bar Geller set.

There have been performances from Ron Carter, who has been elected to the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame; Tom Harrell, who is an award-winning jazz trumpeter; and Ravi Coltrane, who (following in his parent’s footsteps) is a Grammy-nominated saxophonist.

“So this is an incredible lineage of recipients of the Foundation’s jazz award,” Angel said. “We at Clark are really lucky to be blessed by her [Geller’s] generosities.”