Last evening's Juilliard Jazz Ensembles at Paul Hall was a pleasant performance of low key jazz standards from Hoagy Carmichael's The Nearness of You to Frank Perkins' Stars Fell on Alabama.
All was polite and proper, though I'm not sure that's what jazz was ever intended to be. Before the music began, the Artistic Director, Carl Allen, came out to introduce the musicians and thank everyone for coming. The students, clean cut and in jacket and tie, were all so earnest that they were impossible not to like. In the first half, 16 year old Beka Gochiashvili stood out both for his arrangements and his piano playing. The two ensembles had obviously rehearsed as hard for the occasion as any big jazz band from the past.
If there were any shortcoming, it was that the music was played too reverently, as though it had already been consigned to a museum. All the pieces had been so meticulously arranged that one longed for one extended riff or improvisation even from musicians as young as these.