The University of Indianapolis’ Jazz Ensemble celebrated Jazz Appreciation Month by dedicating a week to jazz performances. According to Assistant Professor and Director of Jazz Studies Mark O’Connor, the focus of Jazz Week was to celebrate the art form in as many ways as possible while having as many groups perform throughout. Every night was dedicated to a specific style of jazz, O’Connor said.
According to O’Connor, April 14 was dedicated to the swing era and April 15 was dedicated to groups from the bebop era. April 16 was dedicated to Latin jazz, and April 17 was the finale where the UIndy Jazz Ensemble played, O’Connor said.
The entire week was virtually streamed on Twitch, an online livestreaming platform, according to senior jazz studies major Eric Meyer. Both Meyer and O’Connor said they wish they could have had an audience.
“I will say it’s a little strange not having an audience, and it’s a little challenging because we feed off of the energy from the audience,” O’Connor said. “And so for the audience to be only virtual, it’s a little harder to come up with the energy, but at the same time, there’s a lot of energy, amongst the members of all of the ensembles, themselves.”
Even though there was no audience, Meyer said that there are upsides to the week being virtual. The most obvious is that it is a safe solution, Meyer said.
“I do also think that it’d be cool to keep the virtual option in the future for people that want to watch the art in Indianapolis. Cause I have friends and family from all over the country that like to watch too,” Meyer said.
Throughout the week, students got the opportunity to play along with faculty, junior jazz studies major Alexander Nativi said. He said it was an honor to play with such talented musicians.
“It’s a great educational experience. It’s a great opportunity to play with other musicians that are [of a] different caliber than probably oneself, but it’s not the same [without an audience]. The music doesn’t really feel as aligned as it should be,” Nativi said.
According to senior jazz studies major Pearce Edwards, being virtual is better than nothing, The opportunity to play with others is still an upside said Edwards.
“The thing that’s really important that I can’t miss out on [is] playing with real people because if I was performing or playing with a backing track, there’s not that interpersonal spark,” Edwards said.
As jazz is one of America’s original forms of music, the Jazz Ensemble wants to make sure that people understand its significance, O’Connor said. During these times, O’Connor said that Jazz Week is a celebration of something that was created by our nation. Jazz Week not only impacts the community, but it teaches the ensemble, Nativi said.
“I’m very thankful for this. For the Jazz program, especially as the director Dr. O’Connor, for bringing in such wonderful personnel, such talented personnel, and allowing these other musicians to come in and just share their insight of what this music is,” Nativi said. “That to me has really been the most educational part of this entire experience in my entire time here.”