Jazz Ensemble excels in performance and outreach

March 10, 2016
The Ohio State University Jazz Ensemble

The Ohio State University Jazz Ensemble recently concluded a very active month of performances, travel and outreach.

On February 6, the group performed for Jazz Saxophone Day held in the Steinbrenner Band Room in the football stadium. Jazz Sax Day is one of three Jazz Specialty Days held annually for high school jazz students.

As part of the School of Music Concerts@Ohio State series, the ensemble presented “Entirely Ellington” on February 12. Under the direction of Kristopher Keith, the concert featured faculty member Caroline Hartig, professor of clarinet. Following this highly successful and well-attended concert the ensemble was invited as the headline group for the 7th Annual Columbus City Schools JazzFest 2016. Held at Dominion Middle School under the direction of School of Music alumnus Bruce Carlson, over thirteen Central Ohio bands performed for a panel of judges concluding with the featured concert by the Jazz Ensemble.

The group then traveled to the 49th Annual Elmhurst College Jazz Festival held February 26-27 in Chicago. The group's itinerary included attendance at a performance by the Ryan Truesdell-Gil Evans Project, a master class given by the festival panel of judges including Michael Davis, trombone; Scott Wendholt, trumpet and Donny McCaslin, tenor sax. The Jazz Ensemble’s festival performance was held in the beautiful Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel on the Elmhurst College Campus on Saturday, February 27. The group presented a highly charged program with repertoire ranging from the swing classic "On the Sunny Side of the Street" to RadioHead’s "High and Dry" and from Duke Ellington's rarely heard musical gem "Amad" to Steely Dan's "Black Friday." The ensemble received a standing ovation! Several students in the ensemble were recognized for outstanding performances including Elaine Mylius, trombone; Ben Crowder, trombone; Colin Wood, alto sax; Jon Weisbrot, tenor sax; Gabriel Koempel, guitar and Joe Amadio, drums.

After returning from Chicago, the ensemble hosted a performance and outreach event on March 5 with Community Development for All People and at-risk youth after-school program through the Kirwan Institute’s “More Than My Brother’s Keeper” program led by Katelin Hansen, director of experiential learning. The Jazz Ensemble and faculty including Mike Smith, interim Jazz Studies director and Dave Powers, jazz piano, shared their love and passion for music through performance as well as shared individual life experiences with students 12 to 14 years old. Accompanying these students were three Ohio State student volunteers of diverse majors. Members of the band shared that it was a privilege to have the opportunity to meet and share experiences with the young students. Director Kris Keith remarked, “Music has rescued all of us in one way or another. We hope to continue this outreach program as we work to continue campus and community connections with The Ohio State University School of Music.”

Pictured: The Ohio State Jazz Ensemble immediately following their performance at the 2016 Elmhurst Jazz Festival in Chicago. Included in the photo are School of Music alumni (now master's students) Wes Perry, who performed with the California State University Big Band and Combo at the festival, and Jason Moran who is studying music composition.