The Original Cornell Syncopators, photographed after a gig on November 17, 2016. Seated from left are Rishi Verma, trombone and Noah Li, traps. Standing, from left, Colin Hancock cornet, Hannah Krall, reeds, and Amit Mizrahi, piano. (photo courtesy Colin Hancock)
The Original Cornell Syncopators were founded in 2016 at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, by cornetist Colin Hancock with the goal of creating an ensemble dedicated to the preservation and performance of Early Jazz music. Rather than simply performing music from transcriptions, the group’s mission is to interact with and perform the music in the same way that bands did during the Jazz Age and learning the vocabulary of the music in the same way that many young jazzers do with more modern iterations of the music. In Colin’s own words, “this ain’t your regular dixieland band.”
Trumpeter Paul Merrill, the Director of Jazz at Cornell helped Colin search for interested students among the music community of the school and distinguish the combo as a legitimate part of the Jazz Program. On trombone, sophomore Rishi Verma (from Ithaca, NY, majoring in Operations Research and Information Engineering) came in from the Big Band, and on clarinet and saxophones, junior Hannah Krall (from West Lawn, PA, majoring in Music) came from the Wind Ensemble and the Jazz Combos. Sophomore pianist Amit Mizrahi (from West Bloomfield, MI, majoring in Computer Science) came from the Jazz Combos, and sophomore drummer Noah Li (from Westchester, NY, majoring in Information Science) assembled the rhythm team. Colin is a sophomore from Buda, TX majoring in Urban and Regional Studies. Finally, Joe Salzano, a local Upstate Jazz Icon, was chosen as the combo’s for-credit “coach.” The band chose as its first project to recreate the music of the Original Dixieland Jass Band, and celebrate the anniversary of the first Jass record through exploring the ODJB’s music from 1917.
A couple of guests also served as “coaches at large,” helping guide the group through exchanges in recordings and emails. Jazz veterans Dan Levinson, David Sager, and Hal Smith all provided incredibly valuable information and tips on fine tuning the band. Their help along with the weekly rehersals with Joe Salzano helped turn them from little more than a group of romping college students into a fiery and tight-knit ensemble. It was truly a learning experience as many of the bandsmen had never even heard the style before, yet by the semester’s end the group had found a love and appreciation for all things Hot Jazz.
Their first live performance at the Carriage House Cafe in Ithaca was received with great success, and they are even scheduled to perform for the University Swing Dance in December. Music from this show included selections by the Bucktown Five, Original Indiana Five, ODJB, and Charlie Creath’s Jazz-O-Maniacs. The band is scheduled to perform an ODJB tribute show on the 100th Anniversary of the Waxing of the First Jazz Record, February 26th, 2017 at historic Barnes Hall on Cornell’s campus. Admission to the event is free and the band hopes to bring attention to the importance of the event in musical history. After the show, the band plans to augment to eight pieces and begin exploring the jazz of the mid-’20s and beyond including pieces by Piron’s New Orleans Orchestra, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, and the Wolverine Orchestra.
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