Jazz Ensemble welcomes guest artist

Carley Nail

The lights in Brown Auditorium dim as you take your seat. You look down at the program. You read the concert name—“Blues You Can Use”—at the top of the cream colored paper before you turn the page.  Suddenly, the Jazz Ensemble makes their entrance onto the stage. And with the playing of the first instrument, the sound of smooth jazz begins to fill the air.

This is the experience many had when attending ULM’s Jazz Ensemble concert. The concert opened with a beautiful rendition of “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be,” and ended with “The Jody Grind.”

“The Jody Grind” was also drummer Ryan Petersen’s favorite piece to perform from this concert.

“It was a high energy, fun piece with a good bit of challenge to it,” Petersen said. “Everyone soloing on it had enjoyed it and the groove was very solid.”

It was definitely a great song to end the show with. 

While this concert showcased the great musical skill of the jazz band, there were a couple things that made it particularly special.

The Jazz Ensemble had a guest that helped them prepare for the show—Evan Muzanik.  Muzanik is a composer, keyboardist and musical director in Denver, Colorado. He has led workshops at many colleges.

Muzanik not only worked to prepare students for the concert, but he also participated. He stood in as the conductor for one song and joined in on the keyboard for some others.

“Evan was a great guest to have,” said tenor sax player Emily Roberts. “He not only has amazing teaching skills, but his abilities on the keys are amazing and inspiring as well.”

Muzanik challenged the students to compose together on the spot, which was exciting to watch. 

Trombonist Clayton Moses was excited about this new change in rhythm. 

“Most of us were not comfortable with being put on the spot to improv at the beginning, but later we found our groove to improv and improved ourselves,” Moses said.  “The energy of the concert was like no other ones we’ve had in the past.”

That’s certainly true.  With a guest artist and this lively energy, the Jazz Ensemble brought something new to the table.

If you haven’t had the chance to see the ULM Jazz Ensemble in action, their next concert will be on April 6 and with songs from the big band era. You won’t want to miss it.