The SEMM Foundation, the non-profit organization that supports keeping jazz alive through its Jazz 98.5 FM radio station and other programs, is launching its Jazz Brew Concert Series on Saturday. This unique, educationally-focused concert series will present 16 Saturday evening events in its first round, occurring most weekends from October through February (not including a holiday break for the month of December). The series will be hosted by 4-5 venues in four corners of central Ohio: Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center (Worthington), the King Arts Complex (King-Lincoln District), Westerville South and Central High Schools, and Whitehall Yearling High School. The series is designed so that each venue will host concerts of each of four jazz subgenres, bringing a breadth of jazz flavors to each part of the city. The series kicks off at McConnell Arts Center on Saturday, October 3rd, at 8pm with a “Smooth/Urban Contemporary and Jazz Fusion” pairing of keyboardist Nathan T. Duncan and local supergroup FLIPPO. Ticket info is available here. Keep reading for further series details and a full series schedule.
As Executive Director Ron Johnson told me, the purpose of the Jazz Brew Concert Series is aimed at multiple issues and misconceptions that are damaging the live jazz scene and the future of jazz itself. Johnson has found that potential listeners are often turned off by the word “jazz” in general (for myriad reasons) or that they favor a certain jazz subgenre/subgenres and think that other subgenres have nothing to offer them. This “education gap” is further compounded by the fact that the reduction of school budgets has often led to the cancellation of school music programs, leading to generations of young people who are not exposed to the enrichment of musical education and therefore have no knowledge of jazz and other fundamental genres. Another issue affecting live jazz is a “demographics gap,” where people of different cultures may only be accustomed to venues in particular neighborhoods, and styles of music that are more popular in their neighborhoods, but are often unaware of or unwilling to visit different neighborhoods and try different venues and styles. Finally, with household budgets often strained in the modern era, people may want to attend popular jazz concerts, but often high ticket prices (and deflated value caused by aforementioned factors) limit their ability to attend these concerts.
Johnson and SEMM are facing these issues with a multi-faceted approach. The series has decided to focus on four groupings of jazz subgenres: Classic Big Band Orchestra; Classic Straight-Ahead; Smooth/Urban Contemporary and Jazz Fusion; and Latin, Brazilian/Afro-Cuban. Collectively, the series will include performances by over 30 regional, national and international jazz artists and groups. Each show will include 2-3 bands within a particular subgenre, often pairing acts that don’t usually play together and may have different core audiences in different parts of town, bringing together segments of the jazz audience in one place. Each of the four venues will host four concerts, each focused on a different subgenre, so that certain styles that are underexposed in a certain part of town will reach a new audience, and attendees will have a chance to experience the full spectrum of live jazz performance. The “Classic Big Band Orchestra” performances will pair high school jazz ensembles with professional bands, with the professional band playing a short opening set, enabling these high school students to see trained performers in action, before full sets by each band. In some cases, the performances in local high schools will bring jazz back to these large auditoriums where it is rarely heard, allowing the local community to gain some appreciation for the passion of live jazz.
Adult tickets for each show are $15 (with 4-concert series tickets for each venue available for $60), and student tickets are $8 for each show – prices that are affordable, but still enable the series to support the performers with adequate pay for sharing their musicianship. Proceeds from the concerts will support the SEMM Foundation’s ongoing mission of providing student/community music education services, as well as enabling the support, development and operations of its Jazz 98.5 FM radio station as it looks to become Columbus’ newest low-power FM (LPFM) community radio station in the near future.
The full series schedule,
as of September 28th updated as of October 9th, follows. Stay tuned to http://www.myjazzbrew.com/schedule2.html for changes as they occur. All Jazz Brew Concert Series show times are on Saturdays at 8:00 PM, with doors at 7:30 PM.
Jazz Brew Concert Series Schedule
Saturday, October 3, 2015: Smooth/Urban Contemporary and Jazz Fusion: Nathan T. Duncan, Flippo at Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center
Saturday, October 17, 2015: POSTPONED Classic Big Band Jazz Orchestra: Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra, East High School Jazz Band at The King Arts Complex Saturday, October 24, 2015: POSTPONED Latin, Brazilian/Afro-Cuban Jazz: TBD at Whitehall-Yearling High School
Saturday, October 31, 2015: Classic Straight-Ahead Jazz: Vernon Hairston Quartet, Pete Mills Quartet at Columbus East High School
Saturday, November 7, 2015: Classic Big Band Jazz Orchestra: Rick Brunetto Big Band, Worthington High School Jazz Band, St. Charles Prep High School Jazz Band at Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center
Saturday, November 14, 2015: Smooth/Urban Contemporary and Jazz Fusion: NexLevel, Priscilla Woodson, Liberated Soul Project at TBD
Saturday, November 28, 2015: Latin, Brazilian/Afro-Cuban Jazz: Noe Salsa Project, TBD at Westerville South High School
Saturday, January 9, 2016: Latin, Brazilian/Afro-Cuban Jazz: La Charanga Tres, Clave Sonic at Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center
Saturday, January 23, 2016: Smooth/Urban Contemporary and Jazz Fusion: Urban Jazz Coalition, Broad Street Line-up at The King Arts Complex
Saturday, January 30, 2016: Classic Big Band Jazz Orchestra: John Vermeulen Swing Orchestra, Westerville South High School Jazz Band at Westerville South High School
Saturday, February 6, 2016: Classic Straight-Ahead Jazz: FYI Quintet, TBD at Peggy R. McConnell Arts Center
Saturday, February 13, 2016: Smooth/Urban Contemporary and Jazz Fusion: fo/mo/deep, Carl Sally at Westerville Central High School
Saturday, February 20, 2016: Classic Big Band Jazz Orchestra: Swings The Thing Big Band, Cyndi Black Big Band, Whitehall-Yearling High School Jazz Band at Whitehall-Yearling High School
Saturday, February 27, 2016: Latin, Brazilian/Afro-Cuban Jazz: Canta Brasil, Somos Uno at The King Arts Complex