Jazz music filled the 1891 Bistro as CWU’s jazz bands returned under the direction of Dr. Keith Karns. Jazz bands I, II and III performed a mix of ballads and uptempo jazz standards for students and community members on Feb. 1.
Isaac Hurtado, a senior music major who has been playing the trombone for about 10 years, said his favorite moment of the night was soloing.
“That’s just a really great way for me to express myself,” Hurtado said. “I haven’t played a solo like that in a long time. I took a break from the music program and coming back, I feel more like myself.”
Hurtado said he hopes people who saw the performance realize CWU’s reputation for music, and that CWU has one of the best music programs in the northwest.
According to Hurtado, “jazz is a super underrated genre of music, but it’s a building block of how American music came to be.”
CWU sophomore and graphic design major Bri Wilde said that since CWU is a smaller school, she wasn’t expecting the jazz program to be so prominent.
”They definitely proved me wrong during that performance, they broke expectations,” Wilde said.
Another senior music major Gabe Bradley has been playing the tenor sax for 10 years. He said his solo was one of the best parts of his night.
Bradley said, “We’ve been able to play really burning stuff, and because of the help from Dr. Karns, this band, and he, can really thrive with charts like that. There’s super high energy and it’s just a really good way to kind of get back to our roots here at Central.”
CWU has had three jazz directors in the last three years. Bradley believes that the jazz program is only going to get better from here.
Bradley said, “I believe that now to the next couple of years, the jazz scene here and the level of musicianship is going to skyrocket. So I would really encourage people to pay attention, because special things are happening here.”
Bradley said he hoped his performance inspired learning musicians in the program and motivated them to keep learning and playing music.
A sophomore music education major and trumpeter for five years, Daniel Garcia, said that he was fond of the high-energy songs.
“During our song ‘Fingers,’ when everybody was performing and just watching everybody in the crowd go crazy. That was a really fun part,” Garcia said.
He said he hopes to invoke a new love for jazz and a desire to support the music program in all who were present.
The JEN Club
Corie Williamson is the president of CWU’s Jazz Education Network (JEN) club. She is a junior music education and trumpet performance major.
“We’re a part of the national organization of the ‘Jazz Education Network,’ and we’re a collegiate chapter,” Williamson said. “We aim to promote diversity and access to jazz, and to fill in the gaps where the jazz curriculum does not provide equitable access to students or provide a lot of instruction.”
One of the main things JEN club does is host an annual “Women in Jazz Day” that anyone can attend that aims to showcase women in jazz. This year, the event is Saturday, April 22 in McIntyre Hall.
Corie explained that JEN club has been at CWU for over a decade, and that she joined the club as a freshman, became the secretary her sophomore year and is now the president of the club as a junior.
After the performance, Williamson said: “I just want more people to hear jazz and get to listen to all the hard work that the students do. Jazz is for everybody. It doesn’t matter what your experience level is; we want everybody to be able to listen to and play jazz.”
Former JEN club president and current club member Shaina Ellis said she hopes the performance at the Bistro will bring awareness to jazz and early Black American music. She also believes that there should be more diversity in jazz.
“[People] need to see and hear incredible badass women that are in the jazz scene,” Ellis said.
Jazz Director Dr. Keith Karns is only in his second quarter teaching at CWU. According to his website ketihkarnsmusic.com, he has received awards from the National Trumpet Competition, the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Downbeat Magazine, and the Jazz Education Network (JEN). The JEN club gave him a young composer award for one of his original works around seven years ago.
Karns put a focus on soloing for this performance, as he said it is something that students have to learn by doing. With students learning a variety of instruments, he had to pick songs that would create a good learning experience for everyone throughout the bands.
“The students here are really receptive to my philosophy of teaching and the things I want to do and so I think, as you saw tonight, we just got together and we had fun,” Karns said.
Karns said he has been having a fantastic time teaching the students of CWU and that he intends to stay with CWU bands.
“Dealing with a pandemic and then all that instability, I just want people to know that the program is in good hands,” Karns said. “The students are doing great. The bands are sounding great, and we’re here to stay.”
To attend any JEN events, follow their instagram @cwujen and see CWU jazz bands again February 25 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the Dr. Wayne Hertz Concert Hall inside McIntyre Hall.
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