The students of the Kenyon Jazz Ensemble performed their first ever Winter Dance concert last Saturday at Peirce Pub.
The Ensemble performed 10 pieces in total throughout two sets — one swing set and a funk/Latin/contemporary set. Unlike the more traditional format of most concerts at Kenyon, there was not any introduction for most pieces, and there was a natural flow to the performance that encouraged the dancing promised on the program. Professor of Music Ted Buehrer, who directs the ensemble, introduced the group briefly by thanking the audience for coming and reminding them to dance along.
The show’s energy increased exponentially throughout the performance. The first few pieces were met with polite claps and the dance floor remained empty, but by the start of the second set, the floor was full and the audience was enthusiastically whooping after the impressive solos.
“If you listen to jazz, it’s very interactive,” alto saxophone soloist Max Lazarus ’20 said. “As an improviser, when I hear someone in the audience go ‘Oh!,’ it encourages me as a performer.”
Many Kenyon jazz performances take place in Rosse Hall, and the atmosphere at a seated concert in an auditorium is very different from one at a lively pub filled with quite a few experienced dancers. Many of the people maneuvering the dance floor with grace were members of Kenyon’s ballroom dancing club. They were among the first to take to the floor, but as people’s initial apprehension eased, less experienced dancers joined in. Eventually, there was barely any room left to dance.
The Kenyon Jazz Ensemble’s performance was incredible to listen to. The Pub acoustics worked well, and the sound quality and timbre of the ensemble’s music did not noticeably differ from their performances in Rosse.
This may have been the ensemble’s first event of this nature, but it did not show. The performance went without a hitch, and hopefully will not be the last of its kind.