Jazz Night Gives Students Chance to Practice Their Craft

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Flights of red wines pair well with good company and rousing jazz.

David Savola sat at the bar inside Athens Uncorked. He’s drank a glass of pinot noir. The bartender opened another bottle, and jazz music filled the air. To the side of the wine bar sat a six-piece jazz combo featuring keys, drums, strings, horns and a variety of jazz standards.
“It’s nice to hear such professional high caliber musicians play together in an informal setting,” Savola, an Athens resident said. “It’s just very very nice,”

The music may have sounded like it was played by professionals, but most of the musicians are anything but. The majority of the jazz combo was made up of students.

On the second sunday of every month, Ohio University jazz students and faculty play free performances open to the public at Athens Uncorked.

“There’s so many good music venues here, and to hear faculty play is one of the coolest things about Athens,” Savola added.

Sean Parsons, assistant professor of jazz studies and music theory, said the performances started last year.

“It’s a good chance for students to come in and play live set, live music in front of people in a
setting they might when they go and start working professionally,” Parsons said.

Different combos made up of students and faculty arrange and play the first set. The second set usually gives other music students an opportunity to jump in and get some experience. The performances aren’t an academic requirement, but all the jazz students join in anyway, Parsons said

“It’s pretty full everytime we play here which is awesome and people like hearing live jazz,” he added. “For a place for students to go and play and learn, this is great.”

Ryan Kerwin, music student and trumpet player, said the opportunity to play in front of a live audience is comparable to something like an internship or apprenticeship for an engineering student.

“This is our craft, and this is our chance to test ourselves and our understanding and our application of the things that we’ve studied,” Kerwin said. “This is what students of this music have done for centuries. So it’s incredibly important and part of a long tradition.”

The jazz nights are loved by students and community members alike. They provide an opportunity for the campus and the Athens community to come together.

“Jazz is part of a community engagement,” Kerwin said. “It’s communal music. It’s conversational music. It’s important for people to be out here and feel welcomed and feel part of what we’re making.”