Art & Life

Big Band Madness jazz

Kirkwood Jazz Ensemble
The Kirkwood Jazz Ensemble performs in Ballantyne Auditorium on April 15, 2023. PHOTO BY MAX LOCHER

On Saturday, April 15, the Kirkwood Jazz Ensemble and Kirkwood Jazz Orchestra performed in Ballantyne Auditorium. Following their performance, the Cedar Rapids Big Band—also directed by instrumental music professor Joe Perea—was filled with lots of jazz tunes, talent and soloists. 

The first two jazz bands played four and five well-rehearsed pieces to a large audience and the Cedar Rapids Big Band performed six pieces. The evening’s fantastic weather marked a smooth finish for Kirkwood’s jazz season. 

The concert was spread with a variety of jazz styles, including sambas, classic big band tunes, a ballad and several modern pieces. 

Perea used the concert to pay homage to the late Wayne Shorter, a famous jazz saxophonist who passed away on March 2 this year. To honor his legacy, the Jazz Ensemble performed “Footprints” while the Jazz Orchestra and Cedar Rapids Big Band played “Fee Fi Fo Fum” and “Deluge,” respectively.

The Cedar Rapids Big Band also celebrated the would-be 80th birthday of Thad Jones, a jazz trumpeter whose influence continues to inspire the jazz community today. A performance of the classic tune “Big Dipper” respected his memory.

For the first time in Kirkwood Community College’s recent history, the campus had a spike in interest that prompted the addition of a second student-led jazz ensemble, dubbed the Jazz Orchestra. 

Also functioning to offer students more flexibility in their schedule, the second band meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays, a contrast to the Monday/Wednesday meeting of the Jazz Ensemble. The Cedar Rapids Big Band also utilizes the Kirkwood Music Hall every Monday night. 

The additional jazz band interest has collectively created a large enjoyment and attendance for students and community members to be involved in the program and concerts. Oftentimes, the jazz bands will also travel to local high schools and perform to encourage them to attend Kirkwood and join the program in the future.

Image courtesy of Max Locher

Categories: Art & Life