Monday Night Music – Original Music (and More) by the Jon Seligman Quartet

The Jon Seligman Quartet performing for Monday Night Music in McDaniel Hall. Photo by Emma Carter

A chilly October night makes it tempting to stay in your (excessively) warm dorm room, under your comforter, catching up on the latest episode of The Tonight Show with a plate of Pub fries close at hand.

However enticing that sounded to me, I braved the biting wind to trek across campus for the Jon Seligman Quartet—and it was absolutely worth it.

Dave Ballou on the Trumpet. Photo by Emma Carter.

Dave Ballou on the Trumpet. Photo by Emma Carter.

The quartet, which consists of Jon Seligman and Mike Kuhl on percussion, Dave Ballou on the trumpet, and Chris Pumphrey on alto saxophone, is a fairly new group: they’ve only performed together a few times.

However, you wouldn’t know. After talking amongst themselves and fiddling with their instruments—a pre-performance ritual for any musician—they smoothly started into a traditional Egyptian folk song that featured a wailing trumpet solo with sax accompaniment backed by complex rhythms in the percussion. It was the perfect first piece to capture the audience’s attention.

After the folk song, the quartet transitioned into pieces of original composition. A feature was Dave Ballou’s “#51.” Ballou repeatedly declared its complexity: “did I say it was complicated?” And “#51” was indeed complicated.

Every section featured something new—from melodic, pleasing, seemingly major-key sections to heavier minor sections in which a fluttering saxophone line contrasted a jittery trumpet part.

Mike Kuhl on percussion and Christ Pumphrey on alto saxophone. Photo by Emma Carter.

Mike Kuhl on percussion and Christ Pumphrey on alto saxophone. Photo by Emma Carter.

Audience members could be seen throughout the night with closed eyes, listening to the sounds traveling around the room. Some pieces the quartet played, such as “Parfume de Gitane”—perfume of a gypsy—which made one visualize traveling caravans and dancing beads, or “283,” during which one could not help but be fixated on Ballou’s rapid-fire finger movements, had the audience tapping their feet and swaying their heads. There was genuine applause from the crowd after every piece. The quartet never failed to keep the audience listening carefully.

So even though The Tonight Show had to wait another day, I got to watch passionate musicians playing intriguing and unique music, and not much beats that.

Next time you see a sign for Monday Night Music, consider going to see what the Department of Music has to offer. You might have to leave the comfort of your blankets and take time to bundle up for the cold, but a new experience is definitely worth braving the weather.

The event was sponsored by the Department of Music at McDaniel. Upcoming concerts: Chamber Music on the Hill on Sunday, November 1 @ 7 pm in the Forum; Student Jazz Guitar Ensemble on Monday, November 9 @ 7 pm in Little Baker Chapel; Student Chamber Music Ensembles on Thursday, November 12 @ 7 pm in Little Baker Chapel.