Oct 3, 2006

The Bob Peckman Quartet: Jazzing up at the courtyard

by Kara Shand

As the cool night air swept across Liberty’s campus, the notes from the mellow jazz tunes seemed to float in the atmosphere.

This past Wednesday night, the courtyard, normally buzzing with students rushing off to class, was transformed into a classy jazz spot, decorated with colorful lights and lanterns hanging from the trees while the Bob Peck-man Jazz Quartet entertained attendees.

Peckman, the leader of the quartet, is no stranger to jazz.  The 50-year veteran began his lifelong interest in jazz in middle school, influenced by teachers and classmates.

He recalled hearing mambo music for the first time as a child and being intrigued by the music’s rhythm. He also used to listen to his father’s old “boogie woogie” records, which further propelled his musical interests.

Eventually, his attention moved to jazz, a genre that he said is unique because the band members have freedom to express themselves musically yet still respect the unwritten rules of jazz.

“The essence of jazz is listening to one another and respecting each other. The neat thing about jazz is you can play with people you never met before,” Peckman said.

He also expressed what excited him about jazz, explaining its rhythmically exciting and aggressive nature. “It’s exciting because [the band has] interaction unlike any other genre…. Jazz is like a conversation — you resp-ond to what the other [band member] is playing,” he said.

Because of his Ph.D. in physics, Peckman was not only musically talented but also intellectually sound. He chose to work a steady job and keep jazz only as a hobby. Now that he is retired, he has more than ample time to spend with his music.

As the band took the stage, the first song that was played was called “Caravan,” written by the world-renowned jazz legend Duke Ellington. The fast-paced ballad had the crowd bouncing their shoulders to the music and listening attentively to every chord. 

Peckman, who was on the drums, played gently while the trumpeter carried the up-tempo excitement of the music.

Throughout the night, the songs became more and more gentle and relaxing.  The almost hypnotic sound was reminiscent of a 50’s jazz club in New York, St. Louis or Chicago.

As the band continued to play, it evoked images of, legendary jazz musicians like Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and The Duke. Peckman also spoke of his favorites growing up, which included Art Blake and Shelly Mann.

By the end of the even-ing, many students had retired to their dorms and the flickering candles had blown out, but the sound of the music lingered in the cool autumn night air.

Contact Kara Shand at kashand@liberty.edu.

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