Art & Life

Rachel Eckroth and the Kirkwood jazz bands

Grammy nominated pianist and singer-songwriter Rachel Eckroth took the stage in an appearance with Kirkwood’s jazz bands on April 13, 2024, in Ballantyne Auditorium.  

The event highlighted pieces written by Eckroth including, “A Beautiful Friendship,” ‘Poem,” “Beyond the Sky,” and “Suburbia,” which Eckroth performed with the Kirkwood Jazz Ensemble. Additionally, she performed on piano and keyboard alongside the Cedar Rapids Jazz Big Band for “Days on End,” “Go,” “Selim,” and “Bop Be.”  

Eckroth is an alumni of the University of Nevada, in Las Vegas. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Performance in 2000, and has a Master of Fine Arts in Jazz Performance from Rutgers University, earned in 2005. 

She also frequently tours around the world. Eckroth’s written and co-written album titled “The Garden,” was nominated for a Grammy award the year it was released, in 2021.  

The two performances featured both Kirkwood ensembles. The Kirkwood Jazz Ensemble is a student-centered ensemble ranging from music students and liberal arts, business, and more. It is also open to community members. The CR Jazz band is a jazz ensemble that rehearses once a week, in the evening. The band is open to jazz musicians in the community with veteran abilities.  

Kirkwood student Brendan Pasker, music, a bari-sax player in the jazz ensemble, shared positive comments about the performance. 

“Working with Rachel was an honor. I saw a huge change in pace from last semester. It was nice having such a great pianist to join us for the concert – I think we all played well,” he said.  

Both bands were directed by Blake Shaw. Next year he is leaving the college and will be replaced by incoming band program director Christopher Navarette.  

“Professor Shaw has gone above and beyond in teaching and directing his students. It is very clear to us that he cares a lot about our learning and passion for music. I’m excited to see what new perspectives can do for the program and my playing.,” said Go Benesh, music student and alto sax player.

Categories: Art & Life