Caleb Oswell photo editor
The Pittsburg State University Jazz Band presented their first performance of the semester.
They performed the concert on Thursday, Oct. 6 in the Bicknell Center’s Linda and Lee Scott Performance Hall. The Jazz Band was directed by Robert Kehle, professor of music. The show ended on the piece, ‘Guajirakere,’ which is associated with a Cuban dance form. The piece was picked to honor September’s Hispanic Heritage Month. The performance also featured Russell Jones, professor emeritus on alto saxophone.
“I was very pleased with the way everybody performed,” Kehle said. “You know, it’s a very young band, I’d say we’re about 75-80% freshman and they rode through the occasion they did a great job… It was not an easy concert, there were some challenging spots for everybody.”
Kehle said he chose the arrangements in the performance based on difficulty, style, and to give performers opportunities to solo.
“I try to pick a variety, you know, because that’s one of the things you want your students to learn some Latin, some swing, some standards and some new stuff,” Kehle said. “I tried to pick a bunch of stuff in that direction and then I also wanted to pick, because we got so many new people in the band, some tunes where some people could solo, the blues tunes, or get different people soloing. Give them a chance to shine.”
Russell Jones, creator of the PSU Jazz Band and Jazz Festival, soloed with a saxophone for ‘One More Dream’ in the ensemble. Kent Runyan, professor of teaching and leadership, praised the performance of Kehle and Jones.
“Dr. Kehle does a great job every time I’ve attended this,” Runyan said. “It’s just been one great performance. Usually, we don’t miss any. And then Rusty Jones, we’re a fan of him. He can play that sax like nobody else so that was smooth it was just smooth.”
The jazz band has been working on this concert since the semester started. Ryan Ford, junior in music education, played trumpet during the ensemble.
“I thought it was pretty good. I thought the band blended well together and we produced a good sound and I good show,” Ford said. “I liked West Side Story, it’s just a classic and I thought we did a pretty good job on it.”
The next concert for the PSU Jazz Band will be on Nov. 16. They’ll share the stage with the All-District Jazz Band, a group made up of local high schoolers who audition for a spot in the ensemble. A guest conductor will be brought in to work with the bands. The performance will be free and open to the public.
“Yeah, I think that Pittsburg State is lucky to have great instructors here and then great kids,” Runyan said. “They treat their music kids real well. When they leave here, they know they’re moving.”