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Jazz Ensemble and Groove Project hosts an “Afternoon of Jazz”

The Bradley Jazz Ensemble performed in all-black formal attire at the event. Photo by Anaiah Davis.

On Oct. 17, the Dingeldine Music Center was alive with the sounds of everything from jazz to funk as Bradley University’s Jazz Ensemble and Groove Project presented their show, “An Afternoon of Jazz.”

The chair of Bradley’s music department, Todd Kelly, and the director of Vocal Jazz, Lara Reem, conducted this live performance, their first such since February 2020.

The event showcased three of Bradley’s four jazz groups on campus. Vocal Jazz began with a rendition of Eddie Cooley and John Davenport’s “Fever,” followed by the Bradley Groove Project performing a medley of songs.

This year saw many new additions to the Groove Project, whose members were dressed in matching Bradley Jazz T-shirts and jeans while they played without sheet music.

“The reason that we learn to play without music is that it is easier to learn to play the right style when you are learning from recording,” Kelly said. “The sheet music can be a barrier to playing the right style, especially since most of the most interesting parts of the music cannot be notated.”

The absence of sheet music previously displayed was in contrast to the Bradley Jazz Ensemble, who performed in all-black formal attire.

Freshman game design major Rachel Rudy contributed vocals as part of the Groove Project for songs such as “She’s Got the Blues for Sale.”

Aside from jazz, the night also showcased styles such as blues, funk and New Orleans brass band music.

Both instrumental performances saw the crowd engaging by clapping their hands along to songs like “Home Cookin’” and “Pass the Peas” which were played by the Groove Project.

Sunday’s show was the result of five weeks of preparation from the groups with the Jazz Ensemble rehearsing for an hour four days a week while Vocal Jazz and the Groove Project did so for two hours on Monday nights.

Closing out the Jazz Ensemble’s set was “Royal Garden Blues,” which boasted five solos from different students, each with different instruments.

The 90-minute performance was heavily applauded by all in attendance.

“I thought the performance was very well put together,” Martice Taylor, freshman English secondary education major, said. “I feel that every member that played, especially those that had a solo, exceeded my expectations. … Each song felt like it was chosen with a purpose and it made me want to listen and stay tuned.”

The director himself was also proud of the outcome.

“I thought that all three groups did an outstanding job, especially for this early in the year,” Kelly said. “All of the groups will only get better.”

This year’s annual tribute concert will take place this December and will honor American jazz drummer and bandleader Buddy Rich.

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