• State of Funk-fusion: Led by Guest Artist Joe Bowie,Barbary Coast "Makes Them Dance" at Winter Carnival

    Thursday, February 28, 2008
    News Type

"Make Them Dance," performed by the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble, directed by Don Glasgo, with guest artists Joe Bowie, Adam Klipple '92, and Tobias Ralph, Spaulding Auditorium, Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, February 9, 2008. Music and lyrics by Joe Bowie and Janos Gat. Arranged by Byron Bowie. Copyright Joe Bowie & Janos Gat. May not be reproduced.

"Make them dance, make them dance!" Led by guest artist Joe Bowie's rapid-fire vocals, the Dartmouth College Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble did as told, ratcheting up their intense funky grooves until audience members were up out of their seats and dancing in the aisles of Spaulding Auditorium. It was halfway through their Winter Carnival concert, and clearly, this show, as the Coast's director Don Glasgo would later put it, was "nothin' but a party!"

"Big Band Funk," which drew more than 700 to the Hopkins Center on February 9, was headlined by three guest artists: Bowie, composer, trombonist, vocalist, and front man of the legendary funk/jazz fusion band Defunkt for 25 years; Tobias Ralph, a New York-based drummer and Bowie collaborator; and Adam Klipple '92, a keyboardist, Bowie collaborator, and Coast alumnus. The show featured ten Defunkt compositions by Joe Bowie, arranged out for big band by his brother, Byron.

Winter Carnival Greg Katie
Katie Pine '11 and Greg Hart '10 perform during the
Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble's Winter Carnival concert
at the Hopkins Center, February 9. Photo: Joe Mehling '69

Fueled by Bowie's R&B-style vocals and vigorous trombone solos, the Coast and guest performers synthesized the rhythmic power of the brass section, melodic intensity of the saxes, and unstoppable grooves of the rhythm section into a powerful and funky musical experience. On "See Through," Coast vocalist Khadijah Bermiss '08 sang a playful vocal duet with Bowie that brought down the house; on "Maybe," Bermiss capped a smokey solo performance with an extended section of improvisation that set off a standing ovation.

A longtime friend of Glasgo's, Bowie has performed as guest artist with the Coast twice before. In advance of the concert, Bowie, an experienced and inspirational musical educator, conducted a two-week residency with the 25 student musicians who make up the Coast. They rehearsed the concert program and worked on the basics of funk, Buddhist breathing exercises, and group rhythmical techniques.

Klipple and Ralph joined Bowie for the second week of his residency. For Klipple, the residency and concert were a way to relive his Dartmouth experience, if momentarily, in real time. "It's really nice to come back and just hang with the students, talk about music," he said after the show. "I got to sort of see what's going on at Dartmouth, more from the inside."

As an undergraduate, Klipple played keyboard in the Barbary Coast. His music career was launched when Sun Ra and the Intergallactic Arkestra, the iconic avant-garde big band, performed with the Coast. After the performance, Sun Ra trumpeter Michael Ray invited Klipple and Glasgo to become full-time members of his own band, Michael Ray and the Cosmic Krewe. After graduating from Dartmouth, Klipple toured with the Krewe for eight years. He now leads a number of groups, including the eclectic funk-based group Drive-By Leslie and the jazz piano quartet AK4.

The Barbary Coast next performs on May 10, in its Senior Feature Concert, showcasing the talents of senior members Bermiss, trombonist Evan Carlson '08, and bassist Emmett Knox '08.