by Sebastian Moronta Blanco, Staff Writer
UMass Student Ryan Strumpfler left not one member of the audience unsure of his incredible talent and command of the strings on a guitar after his recital the week before last.
On November 19, Ryan Strumpfler, a fifth-year senior and music major, held a jazz recital from 6 to 8 p.m. in CVPA room 104.
The recital had a set list that consisted of mostly jazz titles and arrangements, however it did include sounds from other genres.
For instance, Strumpfler performed a rendition of “Mediterranean Sundance” made famous by Al Di Meola, and even included an original metal song called “Turbo Ostrich 2.”
Strumpfler played both acoustic and electric guitar during the recital, as well as lending his voice to some of his original songs.
The set list included twelve pieces, including classics from Miles Davis and John Coltrane, as well as four original songs he produced himself.
Strumpfler arranged every piece performed at the recital himself, with the exception of the aforementioned “Turbo Ostrich 2,” which he co-arranged with his cousin and fellow performer Bradley Orme.
A crew of band members accompanied him, swapping in and out to fit the arrangements he’d prepared.
Three guitarists joined him: Matt Sousa, Andrew Martin, and his former guitar teacher Jim Robitaille.
He was backed up by Antonio Irons, Robert Hamel, Bradley Orme, and Jonathan Bricker on bass. Five drummers, John Dalton, Logan Amaral, Matt Noyes, Tobias Ellis, and Ben Noel, performed at the recital while Andrew Sullivan, Adam Whitney, and Colin Milmore shared the saxophone.
David Baylies was the sole trumpet player, and Monica Vasconcelos the sole keyboard player. Dani Haskett, Jessica Thibault, and Jon Vellane gave back-up vocals.
The recital was Strumpfler’s final project, so to speak, in his pursuit of a degree in music, and I had the opportunity to speak with him following his performance.
Strumpfler picked up the guitar when he was 10 years old, and has been practicing ever since. “My parents gave me the option to play an instrument and I picked up guitar” Strumpler said, “but it wasn’t until I watched Led Zeppelin live DVDs that I became enamored with the sound.”
He cited Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, and Metallica as other early influences. “Before I knew any music theory […] it was just the music that I felt attracted to.”
This brought him to UMass Dartmouth as a metal and rock guitarist, but before he arrived and certainly afterwards Strumpfler took interest in other genres as well.
He mentioned discovering legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt “through the wonderful world of YouTube comments,” and included his signature style of “Gypsy Jazz” in his recital.
Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and more had heavy influences on Strumpfler’s training as a multi-faceted musician.
Upon completing his education at UMass, Strumpfler plans to bring his band across the country starting in May of next year.
His band, Mousse, is currently based on campus and has released a self-titled album to Spotify, iTunes, and most other digital distributors.
“I came here for training […] but my goal has always been since I step foot in here, that as soon as I graduate I’m going to hit the road and try to become something.”
Strumpfler’s performance throughout the night earned him a standing ovation, and praises from former instructors and band members.
He thanked his family and friends extensively for their contributions to his evolution as a musician, sharing stories and anecdotes highlighting their support.
When asked what he’d name as the biggest motivator for his practice and study, Strumpfler answered simply, “I can’t think of a world without picking up the guitar, it’s just who I am.”