Art & Life

Jazz band under new direction

Go Benesh playing saxophone in a band
Guided by new directors, saxophonist Go Benesh rehearses with fellow band members. PHOTO BY LIZ SCHULTZ

Kirkwood Community College welcomed a new band director this year, Blake Shaw, a well-known local musician and educator. 

Shaw is filling in the role of previous band director Joe Perea, who received a teaching offer in the Netherlands. Perea was part of the program for over a decade and said he has greatly enjoyed his time at Kirkwood. 

Shaw grew up in Lisbon and has lived in the area for the past 13 years. He started teaching in 2022 but said he has been teaching lessons for about eight years.

Shaw teaches a lectured music class three days a week, gives lessons to bassists and directs both the jazz ensemble and the CR jazz big band. 

Shaw said he has been involved in music almost his entire life. He attended Kirkwood and then transferred to the University of Iowa where he studied music. 

He said his goals for the band this year consist of “challenging the band with music they may not be familiar with and playing gigs that are not just on campus.” Shaw said he plans to give the jazz ensemble opportunities throughout the state of Iowa, not just restricted to local areas on campus. 

Although the jazz ensemble has experienced a change in direction this year, students are adapting. 

Go Benesh, Alto Saxophone player and Liberal Arts major said, “Professor Shaw is a really fun teacher and everyone has a blast. Recently he has given us tunes to play that often get brought up in gigs so we have the knowledge to apply ourselves musically in the community.” 

Shaw said he plans to have the ensemble perform at local high schools and throughout the state later in the school year. 

Image courtesy of Liz Schultz - Managing Editor | Kirkwood Communiqué

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