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News for IWU’s Campus

Jazz Ensemble Performs with U.S. Air Force Band

On April 9, the IWU Jazz Ensemble partnered with the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America to create a very memorable concert.

The first half of the concert consisted of performances from the IWU Jazz Combos 1 and 2 as well as the rest of the Jazz Ensemble.

Dr. Todd Williams, the director of the IWU Jazz Ensemble, said he was extremely proud to see his students doing so well.

“What I learned tonight is that they really got it, you know, and I’m just thrilled about that. And not only did they get it, they owned it,” Williams said.

Each student-led jazz combo played three songs, and then the entire jazz ensemble played six. Some of the compositions were written by students within the ensemble.

“I learned that students learn from other students a lot faster than they learn from me,” said Williams, “So I enjoy letting them exchange ideas during rehearsal. Of course, I kind of give guidance and make suggestions and kind of coach them, but all along, I’m actually watching to see how they’re going to resolve it and make music.”

Ava Hooper, an IWU student, attended the concert and said she was impressed by it.

“It gave me a better appreciation of jazz as a whole,” said Hooper.

The second half of the concert consisted of the United States Air Force Band of Mid-America, the Shades of Blue, playing some songs of their own.

Katelyn Ranck, an IWU student and daughter of a retired Marine, said she appreciated how the Shades of Blue honored those in the military with a tribute at the end.

“I always love when that happens,” said Ranck.

Dr. Williams explained how the Shades of Blue approached IWU with the idea of joining the jazz ensemble in the concert.

“I thought, Oh, this is an opportunity… yes,” Williams said.

Williams said he appreciated the connection with another group of jazz musicians.

“That’s how jazz is, it’s that type of people connecting with other people, people having a commonality,” Williams said, “And despite differences of backgrounds, people agreeing on one thing that has been inspirational to them.”

Ranck said she was impressed with the performance.

“It was so good. I know nothing about music, and oh my gosh, my mind was blown,” Ranck said, “I love the way that they improvise stuff. It just makes it real and unique and authentic.”

Hooper talked about her own musical taste within the jazz performances.

“I like the vocal side of jazz and I also really liked the drum solo around the end,” said Hooper, “I felt like it had a lot of expression in it and it felt very personal.”

Overall, Dr. Williams said he was very satisfied with the end result, as was the audience.

“Great character, great professionalism, as I said, and a great concert,” Williams said.

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