Jazz concert brings a playful mood to the stressful end of the semester

When performers play on stage, the audience can tell. This seems self-explanatory. But I don’t mean playing instruments or voices. I mean “play” like gambol, sport, and enjoy the energy and excitement of doing something one loves. On April 23 CSC’s vocal jazz and jazz and ensembles preformed in Memorial hall. But they didn’t just preform, they played.

The vocal jazz ensemble, composed of ten vocalists, started with a season standard, “Murder By Numbers,” featuring a solo from eminent tenor, Zach Henderson, 20, sophomore of Douglas Wyo. The song, ironically lighthearted in the face of its dark subject matter, glided through some humorously sexual undertones, like “try a twosome or a threesome,” and began the evening on a literal high note. “Everybody Gets The Blues,” the ensemble’s third piece, could be the finals week anthem. One line sings “you run around all night, and sleep all through the day.” Change the last verb to “work” and it turns into the students’ mantra.

Arielle Tiensvold,  senior of Rushville, solos during the song “Avenue C” in Memorial Hall. — Photo by Ashley Swanson

Arielle Tiensvold, senior of Rushville, solos during the song “Avenue C” in Memorial Hall. — Photo by Ashley Swanson

Following this, “Stoned Soul Picnic,” a piece with minimal instrumentation, brought the post-finals feeling to the auditorium. The song was warm and held a promise of summer in its notes, keeping the attending students’ minds pointing toward the educational end-game: freedom.

After vocal jazz, the jazz band preformed six soulful tunes, ranging from Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Thad Jones. Both ensembles recently returned from the Greeley Jazz Festival, where they preformed and received honors for their work. Of the jazz band, Michael Stephens, director of jazz band, cited alto saxophonist Drew Kasch, 19, freshman of Highlands Ranch, who received the achievement of outstanding musicianship, as well as numerous vocal jazz members who also received citations.

This was the school year’s last performance for both ensembles, and some members will not  be returning next year. One of these students is Conrad Gachne, 27, senior of Gering, the bass player for both ensembles. During the show, Gachne requested the jazz band play “happy birthday” for his mother. The band acquiesced, and his mother blushed from the middle row. Gachne will not return next year. According to Stephens, Gachne is starting his professional year in the fall, since he is an education major.

This time of the year brings with it change and pressure, driving students away from sunlight and towards their desks. Yet the two ensembles provided a light and life to the audience with every scat and strum, embouchure and energetic note, and didn’t let the finals-weary pressure show.

Around finals time, there’s a two-week crunch which leaves students wondering why they chose their major, or college, or to even get out of bed this morning. But the jazz performers know why they chose music. Even with music-major juries staring them in the face, every solo was a jaunt into musical appreciation. These jazz ensembles are more than a presentation of a year’s-worth of practice, they are a celebration of each musician’s love of their craft.

During finals, students forget to play. The levity is gone from their days, and they slide into surviving, not thriving. So don’t miss the opportunity to watch a musical performance in this last week – and let them play for you.

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