Tech’s Jazz Ensemble had its first performance of the year Oct. 1, marking a long-awaited end to a year-long hiatus.
“Last year was the real story,” said Dr. Sean Reed, associate professor of music and the director of the Jazz Ensemble.
There were “no concerts” last year, according to Reed, with the ensemble instead focusing on different “rotations of music” as well as a trip abroad to Germany. The wait is over, with the Jazz Ensemble returning to form, regardless of difficulties in preparation due to COVID prevention policies.
“We wore masks, and were socially distanced,” said Reed when asked about the preparation process for the performance.
The ensemble’s usual audience was reduced, however, with the only in-person members being “guests for students in the band.” The limited space for a physical audience provided a new opportunity, however, with the ensemble relying on a virtual medium by utilizing the use of live streaming for the concert.
Due to the switch to a virtual performance, preparation for the concert required a different approach. Among the changes to the usual ensemble calendar was the lack of a “Jazz Brunch” during the highly anticipated Family Day. However, not performing like usual this fall allowed for the ensemble to focus on “lengthier, concert-like pieces,” reflected in the Oct. 1 performance.
“They played very well on every tune,” said Reed when reflecting on how the Jazz Ensemble performed.
The concert had a variety of styles, including several different styles of music that “covered the spectrum,” according to Reed. When highlighting the different genres covered, Reed reflected on how “impressed” he was with such variety “so early in the semester.”
The performance was live streamed to YouTube, providing new issues and opportunities surrounding the concert. The use of a virtual medium allowed for a wider audience, with people “in different parts of the country, and the world” being able to watch, according to Reed. Though live streaming has its benefits, there is “no substitute for having an in-person audience,” Reed said.
“We miss our audience, and loyal jazz family,” said Reed, reflecting on how the band intends to move forward with its performances. Performances are planned to remain “mostly virtual for the time being” with the top concern being one of safety. Though Reed expressed a desire to return to traditional performances, he emphasized that “safety is our major concern over everything else.” Until campus guidelines allow for a return to standard performances, the ensemble is dedicated to providing fun performances that also fit within what is permitted and safe to students, he said.
Though the Jazz Ensemble has faced a difficult year, Reed expressed positivity in his closing thoughts.
“I would say that in these challenging times, it’s more important than ever for us to try to come together.” The “shared human experience” provided through the lively jazz performances is still there, with Reed adding it “couldn’t be more important than in challenging times. We gotta keep on keeping on.”