On Friday, March 14, JSU and the David L. Walter Department of Music held their 3rd annual Jazz Festival. Beginning at nine that morning, the festival took place simultaneously at Leone Cole Auditorium, the Performance Center at Mason Hall, and the TMB auditorium.
Along with JSU's many jazz ensembles and combos, The University of Alabama, Northeast Alabama Community College, and several high schools performed for audiences and clinicians. BB Comer High School, Cleburne County High School, North Murray High School, and Pepperell High School all brought jazz ensembles.
Each ensemble had a time slot to perform for an audience, and then clinicians which included JSU faculty members along with Dr. Chris Kozak, director of jazz at the University of Alabama, and Rob Opitz, instructor and director of athletic bands at Reinhardt, worked with each ensemble, giving feedback and tips for improvement.
Along with being entertaining, the Jazz festival is also functional and beneficial to the performing instrumentalists. The Jeff Hamilton Trio, the special guest artists who performed at the end of the festival, also gave instruction and worked as clinicians for smaller jazz combos.
At 7:30 in the Performance Center as Mason Hall, The Jeff Hamilton Trio performed for an enthusiastic audience. Jeff Hamilton is the percussionist of the trio, Christoph Luty plays bass, and Tamir Hendelman is on piano. Not only was the ensemble impressive, but they were easy to listen to and enjoy. The artists constantly looked as if they not only enjoyed the presence of the audience, but enjoyed each other's company as well.
As part of the audience, there was a mutual sense of involvement and engagement, with tapping feet, applause, and occasionally laughter.
Though Hamilton is the head of the trio and has incredible talent, he seemed to make sure to not outshine the other members of the group. The three instrumentalists worked seamlessly together, and each had their own unique and entertaining style to showcase. The performance included many different paces and moods, and it was eye-catching as well as satisfying to the ears.
The trio performed for about 45 minutes before taking an intermission. During intermission, the audience was caught off guard by an unwelcome interruption: bats. One small bat flew around the heads of the audience members, and soon the numbers began to increase. Two bats circled the curtains and lights of the Performance Center.
By the time the problem began to be addressed, five or six bats flew haphazardly around the room, resulting in the second half of the performance being canceled.
Despite the interruption, the 3rd annual JSU Jazz Festival should be called a success. Student instrumentalists were able to showcase their talents and learn from clinicians, along with entertaining an audience and leaving a memorable impression (and maybe for some, a new love for jazz).