By Gabriela Laracca
On Thursday, December 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the basement of the Schaeffer auditorium, Jazz Ensemble I performed in front of a large audience beneath paper lanterns and colorful lights. An audience spanning from wall-to-wall came out to support the band in their first debut at the new location.
Both student musicians and band director, Kevin Kjos, explained that the band was going for a more club-like feel. To inspire a spontaneous vibe, the programs distributed did not feature a song-list as most programs do. Tables were scattered on the outskirts of the venue and seats ranged from directly in front of the stage to atop a platform in the very back.
The song selections featured solos of band members, all from different instrumental sections. Soulful vocalist solos were also featured including performances by KU students Rebekah Roth and Bobby Rutherford.
The new, smaller venue caused some attendees to feel cramped. “It felt a little congested but the sound was better,” said Kim Brown, mother of trombonist, Ian Brown.
Most people felt that the new location benefited the band. “The sound’s better, the atmosphere’s better- it has a better vibe,” said KU freshman and music major, Cole Herudek. Herudek felt the location and set-up added to the excitement.
Some individuals felt the concert would have benefited with even more attendees. “I think it would be cool if even more people came,” said Steven Paszkowski, KU junior and pianist. “Just keeping packing it in [and] make it a standing room.”
Aside from the new and improved acoustics, several parties felt the new location made for a more personal experience for both musicians and fans alike.
Kjos explained that having the audience seated close to the performance gave the audience members energy. “That’s how jazz should be. Jazz should be a communal activity,” he said. “It shouldn’t be a concert hall [with] an invisible-wall audience, it should be fun and I think this venue succeeded in that.”
Several performers agreed and felt closer to their audience. “It’s more close-knit, you get to actually look at the audience,” said Roth. “They’re right there, you can laugh with them, interact with them- it’s really nice.”
Despite the conflicting opinions of the new venue, the overall consensus of attendees and performers was positive. “They did a great job, I could’ve stayed another hour,” said Denise Snyder, mother of percussionist, Peter Snyder. “I think each individual band member does a wonderful job and then when you put it together, it’s beyond amazing.”
According to Kjos, Jazz Ensemble I performances will continue to be featured in this location.