With a snap and a wave from director Rich Thompson's hand, The Eastman Jazz Band (or lab, as it was introduced) launched into a smooth and swingin' send-up to Dizzy Gillespie at Max of Eastman Place (excuse me, "Eastman School of Music Sproull Atrium") Monday night to an enthusiastic crowd.
The band was a force of around 20 members, with less onstage as some in the rhythm section took turns. Despite the disparity in age -- freshmen to graduate students working on PHDs -- the whole outfit was a pristine and well-oiled machine as it worked its way around arrangements that got close to being tagged "big band."
That's fine, except this group was light on its feet as it stuck and moved, bobbed and weaved with a classic and brassy wail. I could've stood to hear more of this collective wail as the set only lasted a mere 40 minutes.