The Rhea Miller Recital Hall opened its doors on Wednesday, Dec. 1 to feature the SVSU Jazz Ensemble.
The group performed the first half of the concert before welcoming jazz trumpeter Kris Johnson to the stage.
Director of Jazz Studies Colin Wood worked with the ensemble on a number of tunes along with a few arrangements written by Johnson.
“The group has been working on most of the material throughout the semester, though there were a couple of Johnson’s arrangements that we had less time to re- hearse,” Wood said. “Regardless, the band stepped up to make sure everything was ready for the concert.”
Social work junior Gabriel Beardsley attended the jazz concert to support his friends performing in the ensemble.
“The music was fun and dynamic,” Beardsley said. “I genuinely enjoyed the concert through and through.”
His favorite piece of the night was “Getting To It.”
“The piece was the epitome of jazz,” Beardsley said. “It had a wonderful swing, and the fast-paced nature of it was a such where, had we not of been glued to our seats in awe, the entire concert hall would have been dancing.”
Many of the performers that night showcased their talents with solo features.
“Many of the students got their own solos, and the ones that didn’t made themselves stand out simply through their mannerisms,” Beardsley said. “It is fair to say that the musicians were enjoying the music just as much, if not more, than the audience.”
Wood also felt the ensemble enjoyed their time that night on stage with Johnson.
“The students played wonderfully with noticeably more energy and excitement after working with Kris,” Johnson said. “I could tell that his passion and love for the music really rubbed off on them, and the band played its best.”
Wood has known Johnson for several years and knew what he could bring to his students.
“He (Johnson) brings a wealth of experience as a musician who has toured the world with the Count Basie Orchestra, written original music for big bands, his own groups, and films, and taught students at every age and experience level,” Wood said. “I knew he would inspire students with his deep knowledge and passion for jazz as well as give them valuable insight into the life and habits of a professional musician.”
Beardsley believed Johnson’s part of the concert really added the finishing touches to the performance.
“When he was playing, he offered a precision and style that can only come from the years of musical mastery and performance that he has under his belt,” Beardsley said. “The blend of his trumpet and the rest of the ensemble during his solos made for some of the best moments of the night.”
Beardsley was pleased with the overall outcome of the show.
“The performance overall was a joy to listen to and watch,” Beardsley said. “The quality of the music cannot be overstated; it was truly an awesome experience in every respect.”