UIndy Jazz Ensemble swings in Ruth Lilly

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The University of Indianapolis Jazz Ensemble performed their first concert on Oct. 3 in the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall, according to a UIndy 360 article. The performance went from 7  to 8:30 p.m., according to the article. University of Indianapolis Director of Jazz Studies Mark O’Connor said it featured a wide variety of jazz pieces. The concert also featured an opening performance from The Heron High School Ensemble, according to O’Connor.

“In terms of the tunes that we’re playing, we’re playing a nice balance,” O’Connor said. “We’re playing a tune by JJ Johnson, an Indianapolis native trombone player. The tune is called ‘Lament’ and of course it features the trombone section. We’re playing another tune, which is in the style of a shuffle, called ‘Too Much of a Good Thing’ and some other good pieces.”

According to O’Connor, the concert is the first in a series of five, four of which are on campus. O’Connor also said that it is important to pick music that both the musicians enjoy playing and the audience enjoys listening to.

“The other factor is that we want to make sure that we feature particular soloists,” O‘Connor said. “So whoever my up and coming soloists are, I try to feature them in different selections.”

UIndy freshman jazz studies major and bass guitar player in the UIndy Jazz Ensemble Sebastian Rodriguez said the band focused on “Too Much of a Good Thing” leading up to the concert. The piece is one of two that were a key point of focus, according to Rodriguez.

“[We focused on] our one swing piece, ‘Too Much of a Good Thing,’ mainly because it’s our longest a piece, and also another one called ‘South Street Ball Blues,’ which there’s a part where there’s just bass and a certain section for a really long period of time,” Rodriguez said

According to Rodriguez, being a jazz studies major has given him plenty of opportunities to practice leading up to the concert. He said that the ensemble has worked together outside of class in order to practice as a whole.

“Most of my classes right now are just music-based, so it just gives me a lot of free time to go into a practice room,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve been with a lot of members, we have jam sessions where we just pick a piece [and say],  ‘Hey, let’s run it,’ and we play it and find something that we can improve on and just keep doing that over and over again.”

O’Connor said that he hopes the band and audience alike will find the concert entertaining. According to O’Connor, the concert is not supposed to be a formal event, rather something viewers can sit down and enjoy, and students who come to the concert are able to be introduced to jazz as a whole.

“Hopefully [students] can be introduced to the style and the large jazz ensemble in a lot of ways appeals to a larger number of people,” O’Connor said. “Sometimes the smaller groups are a little bit more challenging to appreciate, but that’s really the main thing.”

Rodriguez said the concert shows how versatile the genre can be. Despite its misconception as a classical genre, the concert can appeal to a variety of audiences, according to Rodriguez.

“It definitely exposes people to new genres,” Rodriguez said. “Music shows that jazz isn’t just slow stuff that you hear in an elevator, it can actually be very entertaining. It also brings out more things about jazz that people don’t know about. Improvisation is a really big thing in the jazz world, but when some jazz that you hear outside of here is just like, this is what you play and it’s so different from classical music that it’s, there’s a whole different field for it.”

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