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‘Fatt Jazz’ group aims to entertain all ages

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WSU guitar instructor Brad Ard rehearses for a jazz performance.

WSU guitar instructor Brad Ard rehearses for a jazz performance.

WSU guitar instructor Brad Ard rehearses for a jazz performance.

NINA WILLIS | Evergreen reporter

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WSU faculty and guest Dan Smith will perform next Wednesday as Fatt Jazz, a group that features original arrangements and compositions by two music professors.

Jazz instructor Dave Snider first got involved in music as a kid, playing piano. Growing up in New York, he developed a taste for jazz, although he trained in classical music. Classical music serves as a foundation for experimenting in the different styles like jazz and rock, he said.

“Back in those days, you had to learn how to play the classics,” Snider said. “I had the old-school music teachers that broke out rulers if you played the wrong notes.”

The group, Fatt Jazz, technically has no leader because everyone has a say in the music, Snider said. But because guitar instructor Brad Ard acts as the front man for the group, its official title became “Fatt Jazz featuring Brad Ard.”

Fatt Jazz strives to play for an all-encompassing audience, whether young, old, student or otherwise. They want the entire community to come out and feel good, Snider said.

At the event, students might hear a song and say only their parents or grandparents listen to that kind of music, and so the group will try to play modern music, but will no doubt attract the older folks too, he said.

“At a jazz club, a couple years ago, a student asked what music I like to listen to,” Snider said, “and I said ‘Well, one of my favorite groups is Slipknot’ and all their jazz ideas went downhill. Just because I’m old doesn’t mean I can’t be hip.”

Snider said Fatt Jazz sticks to playing music for audience enjoyment. Without the audiences, jazz fusion groups would not have concerts in the first place. Audiences seem to like what the group does and keep coming back, so Fatt Jazz can continue the tradition.

Ard composes in all the different styles and has composed some great music for this concert, Snider said. The two musicians have taken pieces from other bands and put together arrangements to play.

Ard also wrote a chart that covers the whole concert, called “Attitude.” The group loved the first song, played with an in-your-face attitude, so much that they dedicated the entire concert to the concept, Snider said. Ard’s compositions also include “Foot Fingers” and “Stock and Trade,” two pieces that will end the concert.

Fatt Jazz had the idea to incorporate music that people have familiarity with, alongside original compositions, Snider said. For example, the group takes a song written by The Isley Brothers in 1969 as a rhythm and blues chart and gives it a new, 21st century feel, he said.

Arrangements also include “Come Dancing” by Jeff Beck, which has a heavy progressive groove, and the album “Straight, No Chaser” by Thelonious Monk with an entire set of new chord changes. “Little Wing” by Jimi Hendrix is a personal favorite of the group, Snider said.

The listener needs variety, so Fatt Jazz will play a bit of Latin, funk, rock, blues and much more. This will keep the audience engaged with what the group does, he said.

The most challenging part is making the music sound good, Snider said. Musicians express themselves through their music, so they want to do it right.

“Most in the music department have a saying, ‘You have to be honest to the music,’ ” he said. “You can tell by watching TV and listening what’s good music, bad music, good actors and bad actors. You can tell who’s into it and who’s not.”

Fatt Jazz’s concert will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in Kimbrough 101. There is no admission fee.

“Take a break from studying for a few hours,” Snider said. “Sorry, the bar will be closed.”

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‘Fatt Jazz’ group aims to entertain all ages