Fred Hughes Jazz Trio performs in BMHS FADE Colloquium
Matt Nunez ‘12 | Editor-In-Chief
On the evening of Monday, September 26, Bishop McNamara Students had the opportunity to learn a new language, and watch a jazz band while doing it.
As the first part of the 2011-12 FADE series, the Fred Hughes Jazz Trio performed to a full theater of McNamara students and parents. The two major themes for the night were music as a language and the use of spaces (not playing) within jazz to complement the time spent playing.
“This [soloing] is always a conversation that we’re having,” explained Fred Hughes, pianist of the three part band, “I’m always trying to improve my voice and language.”
The three musicians – pianist, bassist and drummer – took time to answer questions and discuss their musical lives between songs. The students in attendance were eager to ask about improvisation, pursuing music in college, and even closing one’s eyes while playing. To the last question, drummer Frank Russo responded, “I just wanna close my eyes and feel it.” Hughes added on to that saying, “It’s allowing the creativity to flow.”
When asked about the influences on their music, each responded with jazz greats of their respective instruments. For bassist Keith Mohler, the inspiration came from Charlie Haden; for Russo, the great drummer Elvin Jones. Hughes claims that he is constantly inspired by jazz pianists but his favorite “depends on what I feel the deficiencies in my music are at the time.” Although not giving a clear answer, Hughes cited pianist Johnny Mandel as an influence before breaking into Mandel’s own “Theme From M*A*S*H”.
The music throughout the evening encompassed a few different types of jazz, but kept mostly to the standard swing beat. Several originals by Hughes were played with a few cover songs thrown in such as Mandel’s composition as well as “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck. Between songs, Hughes would address the musicians in the crowd specifically by asking them to look for certain rhythm changes as well as pay attention to the “spaces” between notes.
“The music you make is in your ears, your head, and your heart,” explained Russo, “Music is sound and it’s silence and sometimes the silence is just as important as the sound.”
The performance was the first in the series of FADE Colloquiums hosted by Bishop McNamara. FADE (Fine Arts Diploma Endorsement) is an arts program that recognizes dancers, singers, or musicians for their artistic achievements at McNamara by a special note on the diploma received at graduation. FADE students are required to attend a certain number of performances each year.
Fred Hughes was raised as a musician and began performing at twelve years-old. He currently performs at the Gaylord Hotel at National Harbor and has played, taught, and conducted music his whole life. He joined the US Army Band and after a service in Korea, came back to America and devoted more time to his professional life as a musician.