By Joshua Herring
The KU Jazz Ensemble I has recently released a new CD entitled “Old Guys Surrender the Jukebox.” These fresh recordings feature the innovative work of KU’s own talented, young musicians and direction from Kevin Kjos, professor of music and director of jazz studies.
Released on Friday, Nov. 7, this jazz record encompasses the ever-changing nature of the genre. All songs and arrangements were recorded at the KU Recording Studio in Old Main on Dec. 9, 2013 and May 10, 2014. Studio Recorder Katsu Naito of Avatar Studios mixed and mastered the tracks.
The title emerges from one of the songs on the CD, in which English Department Chair Dr. Andrew Vogel narrates an excerpt of poetry written by Michael Perry.
“Jazz is constantly evolving,” says Kjos, “the title serves as a double meaning, representing the emergence of new sounds as well as indicating one of the tracks composed by Geoff Keezer.”
Progressive standards influence many of the recordings in this CD. Kjos often says to his students, “let’s be current.”
“One of the reasons jazz is so challenging is because it’s a moving target,” said Kjos.
Throughout the year, students among the Jazz Ensemble create and perform various arrangements. With “Old Guys Surrender the Jukebox,” they were able to pick and choose their best and most inventive creations to be recorded.
The composing, arranging and recording process is the ultimate educational tool, according to Kjos. Not only are students able to be a part of a professional experience, but the older students often offer knowledge to the younger students, perpetuating creative jazz music here at KU.
The CD includes seven songs, all distinct and sonically ambitious. Most were recorded semi-live, with musicians separated for easier mixing and mastering. However, two songs, “Rhapsody in Blue” and “Aboard the Karlynn,” were recorded live and create a special sound, seemingly replicative of concert style.
“When people think of jazz, they usually think of the traditional swing sounds of Glen Miller,” said Kjos. The songs in this CD attempt to move beyond this, but also, they are surprisingly lengthy. Because of this, the CD has a brilliant story-like quality, employing and translating sensations of wittiness, beauty, mystery, passion and sensibility.
To hear these new jazz recordings or find more information about musicians and composers, a copy of the CD can be found at the KU bookstore or obtained by contacting Kevin Kjos at email@example.com. All proceeds go to the department of music and jazz studies.
“Old Guys Surrender the Jukebox” was produced by Kevin Kjos and Carver Scott Lee. Communication design students Amanda Vasko and John Woodward created the album artwork.