On the warm Friday afternoon, students in the University Music Library were graced with an intimate jazz performance at “Making Noise in the Library: Jazz in the Afternoon with Michael McNulty and Tina Hashemi.” The two musicians were joined by second-year College student and bassist Ami Falk for the last “Making Noise” show of the year, and the trio made the performance worth it for the students who found their way to the tiny library tucked inside Old Cabell. The show was free to all attendees, leading to an impressive display of jazz prowess on the welcoming scale of an NPR Tiny Desk Concert.
While each of the 11 tracks they performed were alive with improvisation, the chemistry between Tina Hashemi, Class of 2021 alumna and vocalist, Michael McNulty, jazz guitarist and third-year College student and second-year College student Ami Falk indicated a great deal of preparation.
“We just started playing together in about January or February, so we’ve been working on this stuff for a while,” said McNulty. “It was great to present it, finally.”
Throughout each track, the mood was casual despite the expertise on display. Moments where the instruments competed were met with chuckles between the artists, and the atmosphere around it was relaxed. The second song they performed, “I’m Going to Live Till I Die,” showcased their ability to bring energy with exciting and bold instrumental performances that suited Hashemi’s confident vocals. Just after, “The Shadow of Your Smile” quickly brought the energy back down for a soothing ballad that had the entire library tuned in.
The conversation between all three musicians was clear to the audience as different instruments would come to the forefront. Falk dominated with the bass on the moody “Summertime” while “If I Were A Bell” saw Michael honing a confident guitar solo. There was a beautiful balance between cohesion and individual expression captured in the artist’s improvisations.
“That’s what jazz is about,” said Hashemi. “It’s improvisation, and doing that sort of thing in the moment.”
The vibe of the event seemed to be exactly what the artists intended to create. As students sat back to snack on free cookies and lemonade, the three musicians brought a precise yet playful performance to a time on grounds when students were needing a break from the stress of finals.
“It’s a great space. It’s really intimate,” Falk said. Having their jazz performance surrounded by musical history books, comfy couches and music students was seemingly an aid to the artists, although the quality of their performance indicated they didn’t need it.
While the quality of the music stood on its own, the space it filled was special in its own right. The University Music Library provided the perfect acoustics as the instruments and vocals softly enveloped the room.
“It’s hard to find venues that are more listening rooms as opposed to background music or something that’s just really loud,” Hashemi said. “I liked that we could talk to the audience and be interactive with them and also interact with each other and have it all be audible.”
The last song they performed, “On Green Dolphin Street,” ended the show on an incredible note, displaying their versatility and passion over a song each artist clearly loved. While the University offers a wide array of student events to attend, performance events like “Making Noise in the Library” are the best of the tiny treasures art students give to the University. It was a living, breathing performance from dedicated musicians bringing their work to a moment a few students were lucky to catch.