Students perform in annual Jazz Central


There was little introduction before the auditorium was filled with the sound of a 19-piece Jazz band. The first soloist approached the front of the stage and the audience erupted in cheers as the trumpeter began her solo.

Jazz Central is one of three major events Central Michigan University's Jazz ensemble puts on every year in the fall. The event took place Sunday in the Staples Family Concert Hall in the Music Building. 

The jazz ensemble is a course offered at CMU that requires an audition.  Fifty students auditioned early in the year with 19 students selected to perform.

“It’s relatively strenuous. We practice as a group three times a week, for fifty minutes each rehearsal,” said Rob Killips, director of the Jazz band. “Students play multiple instruments and have multiple solos — all of which are (mostly) improvised. We had about 20 solos and all had some degree of improvisation to them.”  

The band ended the event by performing a piece by Bob Florence's "Carmelo’s by the Freeway." 

“I love this event and events like this because (despite not being a) music major, but I can still be in an ensemble." said Ben Crysler, a junior and tenor Saxophone soloist said. “At an even more basic level, it’s just a lot of fun to be up there with so many other musicians having fun.”

During the performance, the drummer could be seen head banging while the electric bassists leaned back with his eyes closed, swaying to the music. 

“My favorite part about this performance was that it all came out safe," said Robbie Smith, director of jazz studies and lead pianist. "It’s always scary because it’s jazz and something could (always) be different. Things could awry within the group and it could actually fail, but there were no moments like that in this performance. It was great.”