JazzTimes

Welcome to the New Regime

IN LATE AUGUST, MEMBERS OF THE TEMPLE UNIVERSITY JAZZ BAND rehearsed on stage in Philadelphia for the first time since COVID-19 separated them in March. But they still weren’t quite together. A series of giant plexiglass screens on rollers, spaced six feet apart, isolated the 21 musicians from each other and their leader, trumpeter Terell Stafford. Even before the music started, there were more reminders of the risks of playing in a group. Stafford, face mask firmly in place, checked with the horn section to ensure they had the proper bell coverings and filters needed to keep everyone safer during practice. He also explained that playing time would be limited to 30 minutes to allow the air in the school’s performing arts center to recirculate, so they would take a short break at quarter past the hour. Then he raised his arms and, with the snap of his fingers, counted in Sonny Stitt’s “The Eternal Triangle.”

Stafford started and stopped the rhythm section several times, and did the same for the horns. Their timing was off because they were sitting so far apart from each other. “Usually when we set up for rehearsal or a concert, everybody in the section is directly next to each other,” said saxophonist Adam Abrams, 22, a senior from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. “Maybe there’s a foot of space, so it’s much easier to hear and blend and listen to whoever is leading the section when we’re close together.” The safety measures affected more than the music, said Stafford, who also serves as director of jazz studies and chair of instrumental studies at Temple. “It felt

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