Jazz Jam Series cures the Tuesday night blues

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Jam sessions allow jazz artists to gain experience performing and spontaneously creating music in front of small crowds. Now, with the Jazz Jam Series happening every month on campus, jazz musicians and music lovers can get together at Centre Stage to enjoy a night full of voluntary and free-form jazz music.

Each event is hosted by a house band. This band will feature one of Utah’s top jazz professionals along with students. The host band will play songs throughout the event. But, audience members are encouraged to bring their instruments and play alongside the band and the jazz professional. No sheet music is allowed. The musicians are supposed to be able to improvise and take turns showcasing their abilities.

During the first show of the series, the jazz musicians played Blue Monk by Thelonius Monk, A Night in Tunista by Dizzy Gillespie and other various jazz and blues numbers.

“My favorite thing is to hear the guitar because it has such a harmonic sound,” music production junior Dave Montrose said. “Each musician has so much flexibility, rhythmic and harmonic sounds because of the musicians’ freedom to improvise.”

One high school junior, Daniel Baldwin, was encouraged by his private alto saxophone tutor to come to the jam session. Baldwin has a love for watching other people play jazz music because it inspires him to be a better artist. It makes him want to get up on the stage and perform with the other artists, which he ended up doing later in the show.

Baldwins friend, John McNairy, plays the tenor saxophone and also has a love for the art of a good jam session.

“I love jazz music and the opportunity to improve and listen to others improve,” McNairy said.

Alex Heitlinger, assistant professor of music and director of jazz and contemporary performance, hosted the event and encouraged young musicians from UVU and the community to take the stage.

Heitlinger has been leading bands and composing his own music for a little over a decade. Before becoming a professor at UVU, he released his debut album in 2004, Green Light (Synergy Music). It was one of the top albums of the year according to jazz radio legend Bob Parlocha. Heitlinger worked in New York with a band and three compositions from the bands album received ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Awards. He later got his M.M. and D.M.A. in Jazz Composition.

He has performed with international recognized jazz artist Jim McNeeley, Ray Anderson and Bob Brookmeyer. Heitlinger also performed with other artists in New York, France and Germany. He has had an amazing career as a professor and a performer. He understands how important these jam sessions are for jazz musician’s careers, and that is why he started the series.

The next Jazz Jam Series will be on Oct. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Centre Stage.