The Bicknell front lawn became stage for the Summer Kicks Jazz Band, under the direction of Robert Kehle, Wednesday, June 20, as part of the 2018 Chamber Music Festival.
“I’m just up here waving my hands,” Kehle said. “They play real good and they make me feel so good.”
The Summer Kicks Jazz band is a recurring feature in the Pittsburg Chamber Music Festival, which is hosted by the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts and the Pittsburg State department of music. Members of the Kicks Jazz Band are volunteers from all walks of musical life, from current PSU students to local teachers and professors to alumni members.
“It’s very nice to have jazz concerts during the summer,” said Kiel O’Neal, freshman in music education. “It was a fantastic night for a jazz concert.”
O’Neal, entering PSU as a music major, has played in the Pittsburg High School Jazz Band under the direction of Pitts State alumnus Cooper Neil. O’Neal recently graduated high school and quickly continued his music by participating in this year’s festival, in both the Summer Youth Wind Ensemble and the Pittsburg Summer Wind Band.
Recently retired professor of music Russell Jones played alongside the jazz band and was soloed frequently during the tune “Quintessence” by Quincy Jones.
“There were some good moments, and Dr. Jones crushes it every time,” said Chris Goddard, first trombone in the ensemble.
While Goddard gave praise, he also had the opportunity to play solos of his own. He was featured in “Dream of Return” by Pat Metheny and was joined by the rest of the trombone section consisting of Amanda Damewood-Goddard, Forrest Parr, and Lucas Warford.
Andra Stefanoni, PSU director of media relations, attended the concert with her son, a young jazz musician, and her mother, a PSU alumna, and was especially fond of the concert’s scene.
“My family loves to attend concerts at any venue, but we love outdoor jazz,” Stefanoni said. “The lawn concerts make the music accessible to everyone. Those who might not usually attend a formal concert indoors might drop by and listen. It’s a great way to hook new audience members.”
Stefanoni and her family have attended many lawn concerts by the Summer Wind Band and Summer Kicks Jazz Band and their hope is that they continue.
“I’ve seen people out for an evening walk stop and listen,” she said. “People can show up, stay for a few songs, go on if they like, and not be intimidated.”
The concert attracted viewership from a cross section of community members to PSU students and faculty; PSU professors, members of the Treble Clef Club, family and friends, as well as high school and college students filled the audience across the lawn in chairs and blankets.
The Pittsburg Chamber Music Festival, organized by PSU professor of violin Raul Munguía, continues Thursday, June 21, with the Kaleidoscope of Styles concert, Friday, June 22, with the Eight Seasons concert, and Saturday, June 23, with the Corky Siegel Chamber Blues.