Art & Life

A night of jazz in Ballantyne

Freshman Matthew Brehm, soloist on alto saxophone
“Dusk to Dawn” features freshman Matthew Brehm, soloist on alto saxophone. Kirkwood’s Jazz Ensemble performs on Nov. 12, 2022, in Ballantyne Auditorium. PHOTO BY LIZ SCHULTZ

On Saturday, Kirkwood’s instrumental jazz ensembles—the Kirkwood Jazz Ensemble and the CR Jazz Big Band—gathered in Ballantyne Auditorium to perform a concert that’s been in the works since the start of the semester. The two bands opened with contemporary jazz tunes before being joined by Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, this year’s guest artist.  

Brown, a 33-year-old tenor saxophonist based in New York City, grew up in the small town of Elmira in upstate New York. A musical prodigy, he started playing the sax at 9 years old and was playing gigs by 11. Brown later studied at the Brubeck Institute in Stockton, Calif., and has since toured with music legends such as Taylor Swift, Phillip Phillips, and Chris Botti. His eponymously named YouTube channel has amassed almost 90k subscribers, offering free jazz lessons. Brown also conducts virtual saxophone lessons and teaches a monthly masterclass at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. 

Aside from being a guest performer, Chad LB also hosted a masterclass in Ballantyne on Saturday afternoon free to the public. Area musicians gathered to ask questions about music theory concepts, the best methods for practicing jazz tunes, how to utilize various playing techniques and many other topics. 

Much dedication from Kirkwood’s jazz bands culminated in a vibrant performance on Saturday, where students and community members alike got to show off their hard work as well as new ideas they may have picked up from the night’s guest artist. The Kirkwood Jazz Ensemble performed pieces ranging from smooth jazz to contemporary hip-hop, while the CR Jazz Big Band played medium swings, quaint ballads and more. 

Anyone looking for a little more jazz here at Kirkwood will be excited to hear that Kirkwood’s vocal jazz groups—Jazz Transit and Jazz Express—will be performing in Ballantyne Auditorium on Dec. 3, at 7:30 p.m. along with the Kirkwood Concert Choir.

Image courtesy of Liz Schultz | Kirkwood Communiqué

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