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February 14, 1997 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-02-14

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Looking for something to laugh at, other than your date, this Valentine's Day? The Def
Comedy Jam All Star Tour '97 will take place tomorrow at EMU's Pease Auditorium.
Featuring the likes of "Def Comedy Jam" and "Comic View" stand-up veterans Kool-Aid,
Mike Bonner, Terrell, Bo-Bo Lamb and Shaunie B., the show will give you a little some-
thing to laugh and smile about. Don't miss the fun. Tickets are $10, and may be pur-
chased through the Michigan Union ticket office or Ticketmaster. Call 763-8587 or
(810) 645-6666 for more information.

February 14, 1997


genius at
JIlil show
By James Miller
Daily Arts Writer
Wynton Marsalis still has his share of
doubting Thomases in the world of jazz
scholarship, and "Blood On The Fields"
has just made fools of them. Every once
in a great while, an American composer
conceives a piece of such brilliance and
honesty that the often-misused word
eius" not only applies but seems flat
d tepid.
In the grand tradition of jazz/art music
fusion pieces like
Ellington's "Queen'sf
Suite" and Charles
Mingus' unfinished Wy
"Epitaph," Marsalis'

Talented Comedy Company
shoots again with 'Get Funny

Wynton Marsalis plays in "Blood On The Fields" at Hill Auditorium.

styles and genres that replicate a bustling
commercial center of the slavery era. The
other song from the marketplace scene is
"Soul For Sale "sung by John Hendricks.
One of the more powerful sections of the


nton Marsalis
Hill A uditorium
Feb. 12, 1997
commentary and

piece, its buoyant
style is garishly
contrasted against
the horrifying sub-
ject matter of the
song, portraying the
degradation of a
slave auction. The
emotion provided by

new piece more than
confirms his status
as a musical titan of
the 20th century.
*"Blood On The Fields" is the story of
two slaves, Jesse and Leona. The narra-
tive tracks them from their capture in
Africa to their escape northward. The
second piece, "Move Over," creates the
mood of a slave ship in the dreaded
Middle Passage with pitching, undulat-
ing rhythms and jarring dissonances.
Leona, played by Cassandra Wilson,
makes her appearance here. Wilson's
?ice, similar to the husky, tenor deliv-
y of Nina Simone, is the perfect vehi-
cle for Leona's patient, quietly suffering
One of the great strengths of the piece
is the accurate job it does of musically
representing each scene of the show.
"Marketplace," the introduction to the
slave market, is filled with colliding

the careful use of these two elements is a
testament to Marsalis' skill with both the
score and the libretto.
Other notables of the first set were
"Work Song (Blood On The Fields),"
with all the strength and defiance of an
up-tempo field holler, and the set clos-
er "Juba And A O'Brown Squaw,"
which captured the raucous and out-of-
control spirit of the minstrel era. Not to
be left out was Wilson's rendition of
"What A Friend We Have In Jesus," a
version that could have called the cold-
est of hearts back to God.
Two songs dominated the second set.
First was "I Hold Out My Hand," in
which Jesse and Leona declare their
love for each other. Done as a tradition-
al jazz ballad, Wilson and Miles

Griffith (Jesse) command considerable
power as lovers who find solace in each
other despite the crushing inhumanity
of slavery. Second was the awesome,
show-ending "Freedom Is In The
Trying." Sung by Hendricks' Juba, the
song beautifully represented jubilation
in the wake of catharsis and the salva-
tion embodied in the decision to escape.
"Freedom Is in the Trying," with its
triumphant ethos, led naturally into the
show's epilogue, "Due North."
Reminiscent of the campfire scene in
"Glory," the song consisted only of two
bass clarinets and bass, while the rest of
the band clapped a simple rhythmic
accompaniment and eventually rose
from their seats, walked around the stage
and filed off as the audience exploded as
if at a revival meeting. The religious end-
ing was particularly poignant in a piece
that centers itself around hope and victo-
ry in the face of terrible despair.
"Blood On The Fields" is a piece of
far more depth and power than can be
described here. Marsalis and his won-
derful Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
have given a clear and resonant voice to
the pain and triumph of the African
slave and have articulated, better than
nearly anybody, the kind of hope in the
face of constant agony that has given
rise to the language of jazz.

By Christopher Tkaczyk
Daily Arts Writer
For those of you who were not treated well this
Valentine's Day or for those of you who need to recover,
Comedy Company has a special treat for you this weekend.
Following that vicious holiday that many dread with the fear
of loneliness, Comedy Company will again showcase its
talented performers in a night mixed
with original sketches and improvisa-P
tion games. This time around, the group P }
has chosen to name their show "Get
Funny," which is a twist on the title of
the movie "Get Shorty." Although no
sketches in the show will parody the
movie, there will be one sketch that
plays upon all the different characters portrayed by John
Travolta, one of Hollywood's most-working and most-
sought-after actors.
Also scheduled during the series of sketches will be a
number of original works written by the performers and a
team of writers, all under the direction of LSA Senior Scott
Michael Fera. Under Fera's direction, the Comedy
Company has reinvented itself into a comedy group for all
audiences, instead of just college students. Fera and com-
pany must be doing something right, because they broke
the U-Club record with a sold-out show last month.
"Mortal Komedy" was hailed as an excellent night of enter-
tainment, comedy, parody and improv all rolled into one. If
"Get Funny" is half as good as "Mortal Komedy," then
audiences will still be in for a great night of entertainment
and laughs.
This year marks the troupe's 16th anniversary - original-
ly staging their first production in 1979. Since that begin-
ning, the group has produced many talented actors and
comedians who have gone on to enchant television and live
audiences. The "Second City" of Chicago, the deliciously
sappy television series "Saved by the Bell," and "Second
City Detroit" all boast of Comedy Company alumni. There
is no doubt that the performers in today's eight-member


troupe may go on to thrill future audiences in the national
Some of the highlights from Comedy Company's previ-
ous engagement at the U-Club included an entertaining
sketch that parodied the ever-popular Bernstein/Sondhpim
musical "West Side Story." In this sketch, however,'the
show was set in a retirement home where two geriatrjc
gangs fought over the home's only. tele-
vision set. Instead of the Jets and the
E V I E W Sharks, it was "Days of Our Lives" "s.
Get Funny "Wheel of Fortune." Other sketches
introduced a homosexual Superman<.as
tur d nt e mon well as a hilarious chapter meeting of
Admission $3 "Stalkers Anonymous."
Following "Mortal Komedy"'s
sketches were a series of improvisation games that involved
the audience. Suggestions for topics were asked 6f the audi-
ence, which provided for an excellent addition to the pro-
gram. "Mortal Komedy" ended with a song improvised by
the cast, and which was titled by an audience membeh. in a
interview with The Michigan Daily, Fera stated that tarl of
the improvisation games in "Get Funny" will be entirely
new, since the group wants to "explore new areas and get
the audience involved even more." Although all the iin'prov
games may be new, the company plans to include -the
improv song in "Get Funny," since it went over so well in
the last show.
Another good reason to see "Get Funny" is the price. Last
month, the admission.was $5, but the group decided to settle
for $3 this month. The reason for the price change is that this
show will not feature a food buffet before the show..;
So if you're in that post-Valentine's depression mode and
need some cheering up or if you need to see a bunch of
classmates make fools of themselves at your bequest, "Get
Funny" is not a show to be missed. For whatever reason,
the night will definitely not be wasted. Fera urged, "Bring
your friends, bring your relatives, bring your relative's pcts
... it doesn't matter, just make sure you don't miss (this

;Monsters of A Cappella' storms
into Rackham for benefit tonight

By Stephanie Love
Daily Arts Writer
St. Valentine's Day is traditionally known as a celebration of
sentiment and romance ... but monsters? Tonight's seventh
nnual "Monsters of A Cappella" concert promises to draw in
ore than just a crowd for its evening of quality music.
"Monsters of A Cappella" features Amazin' Blue, the
Friars andi the Harmonettes in a benefit

concert for the Ann Arbor ShelterP
According to Lyell Haynes, Business
Manager of Amazin' Blue, the group
raises approximately $4000 to $5000
each year. "It varies depending on what Rackham Auditorium,1
kind of turnout we get for the show as
well as what our operating costs are," she said.
Behind the scenes organization begins early.
"It's no different than any other concert put on here at the
University. We need to start looking at dates for the show a
year in advance. Once we have that, the rest just comes
together. Picking guest groups isn't that hard either as we
have plenty of talented groups on campus as well as on the
rest of the nation's campuses. Trying to find a guest group
from far away takes a bit more time, because of obvious rea-
sons of travel plans," Haynes said.
This year's concert includes guest performances by the
Gentlemen and MSU's Accafellas.
The juxtaposition of the groups presents a showcase of
some of the many different styles of a cappella singing. Each
group is student-run, with members directing rehearsals and
arranging music in preparation for numerous performances
throughout the year. In addition to collaborating in

"Monsters," each group performs an individual fall and
spring concert.
Amazin' Blue is a 14-member group consisting of six
women and eight men.
"Some people worried that Valentine's Day wasn't the
best choice for 'Monsters,"' Haynes said. "I'm just glad we
didn't end up with 'Star Wars' opening on the same night,
'cause I would have had to go to that
REVIEW instead."
The Friars, an all-male octet, was
Monsters of founded in 1955 as a subgroup of the
A Cappella Men's Glee Club.
Tonight at 8 p.m. According to member Patrick Garrett,
$6 at Union Ticket Office "We're entertainers, not just performers.
And that's what our audience has come
to expect. It's not flawless choreography, rich, vibrant blend
or comical genius that draws our fans and friends, but rather
our noble attempts at combining all three."
An all-women's ensemble, the Harmonettes are the II -
member subgroup of the Women's Glee Club.
"To be able to perform with acts like Amazin' Blue and the
Friars is incredible. It's great to interact more with other a
cappella groups on campus. It is also heartwarming to know
that we are making a difference, that our proceeds go to char-
ity,' first-year member Elizabeth Patterson said.
As each ensemble has a distinct sound and following, this
concert has the potential to become a competition between
the groups.
But as Haynes noted, because "all the groups have their
own style, competition really ends up not being an issue. The
goal that all of us share in common is to put on a great show
of a cappella music."

The cast of "Get Funny" will have your body convulsing with laughter If you attend Saturday night's performance at the O-clbb
in the Michigan Union at 8 p.m. How could you resist faces like these?

Does waiting in line bug you?
We have all the services
to get you in and out FAST!
" Automated machines that
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