NuFusion jazz ensemble demands dedication, practice, and a good chunk of any skilled musician’s time to pull off their annual concert.
Although some years NuFusion performs live twice, once in the spring and once in the fall (often at the Hot Springs Jazz Festival.) This year, however, NuFusion performed a new concert on campus under the direction of the adjunct professor, Adam Davis.
This was the first time NuFusion was not directed by music professor Dr. Rick Dimond, who founded the jazz ensemble over a decade ago. Dimond has been on sabbatical this semester, thus Davis decided to work out a whole new set for the fall concert on campus. However, many prominent members of NuFusion took a break from the ensemble this semester, including junior music major, Jake Wyatt.
Wyatt met Dr. Dimond through Arkansas Governor’s school, where he heard about the NuFusion program. “He invited me to the concert in Spring 2015, and after attending, I knew that’s what I would be involved in for the next four years.”
He quickly rose to the top in his degree and started working directly with Di- mond, who admires and speaks highly of Wyatt’s work.
Wyatt arranges modern, often popular songs for the jazz ensemble. Essentially this means Wyatt has to reconfigure a song and all of its sections to specific sections of performers in the ensemble. It takes a lot of time and careful thought, as well as practice to ensure the song is recognizable, accurate, and of course sounds good.
“You’d be surprised how good the students are at arranging, how imaginative they are, and that’s really kind of the point, that’s the educational value here,” Dimond said during an interview with Henderson Television last semester.
In last spring’s performance, Wyatt arranged six songs for the concert, including Panic! At the Disco’s “Death of a Bachelor” and Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein.” Dimond got the idea for NuFusion when working with his percussion students in the early 90’s. Recognizing some of their weak points at the time, he decided to challenge them with different, non-traditional songs. From this, other musical sections were pulled in, as well as vocalists, and by spring of ‘94, the first NuFusion was born.
“I really wanted an experience for our students that was like an outdoor concert, complete with professional sound and lighting, like you were going to see in a concert at Robinson center,” Dimond said. Indeed, there are few to no concert opportunities for music students in Arkadelphia. With NuFusion, not only do the performers get to skip out on a trip to Hot Springs or Little Rock, the audience does too.
“I allow the students to get as creative or as transcriptive-oriented as they’d like to be.”
Wyatt has certainly taken advantage of this opportunity, and now not only focuses on music, but on lighting, sound, and stage design as well. Last year, he took on Innovative Media as a minor to help further his skills in these areas. He has even branched out to film.
Since last summer, he’s been working on a personal film project, and has spent countless hours accumulating footage at a variety of festivals in the state. He has branched out to filming with a 360 camera, and has earned a staff position at Henderson Television. He dedicates most of his time to a variety of media projects and furthering his percussive skills.
“I had to take a break from NuFusion this semester because I knew I wouldn’t be able to dedicate the time to it that I needed,” Wyatt said, although he discussed how much he loves working for and performing in NuFusion.