By Christopher Hartwell @Silienceseen
As the lights overhead fell to darkness, the crowd felt an energy pulse through the theater as old style jazz washed over their ears. The sensations brought by these songs from composition from times long past transported the audience to an earlier musical era.
On March 10, 2017 at 8 p.m., students played instrumental jazz live for an audience present in the Mertes Theater.
For students in the audience, this was more than just an event of musical appreciation. Jazz, as an influential art form paved the way for rock ‘n’ roll and many more musical genres.
“Jazz is in many ways a precursor to a lot of modern music now,” Rich Lujan, one of the musicians, said. “There are tons of funk and just great music out there that’s all of it really inspired by jazz.”
For Lujan, listening to and playing jazz is about more than just a type of music. It is about hearing and understanding the origins of our sounds. “I’d say there’s definitely a place for (jazz), but it’s not for the faint of heart I guess,” Lujan said.
With pieces such as “Ruby, My Dear” by Thelonious Monk and “Four” by Miles Davis played by the musical students on stage, the evening was filled with samples of jazz and blues presented for enjoyment.
Even though the Jazz Age was over 90 years ago, the performers emphasized that it remains an important part of American musical culture.
“I think jazz has a huge place in modern music today, or at least a huge influence,” stated Austin West, a music education major playing guitar for the evening. “It was one of the most popular forms of music a while ago, and you can still hear it tonally where the influences affect today’s modern music.” While pop music and hip-hop beats have replaced the older music on our radio, they continue to be filtered through these jazz themes to create modern tones.
The prominent recurring theme of the evening was the impact on modern composition that jazz has. Victor Serda, who played upright bass for this event, said, “I think a really easy way to describe some hard chords to describe, if a chord is indescribable you call them jazzy chords.” The way a piece is created is influenced by the origins it is built upon. Serda continued, saying, “The main thing is that jazz was very contemporary and that idea is still used but definitely in a different sort of color.”
The concert featured a varied group of musicians who showed their talents with precision and gusto, and the jazz combos and following jazz ensemble were well played and seemed well received.