Jordan Jazz unites students, professionals

By Emily Delaney

Jordan Jazz, the vocal jazz ensemble at Butler, will host the Indiana Vocal Jazz Fest, an annual event which brings high school students to campus to learn vocal jazz.

Directed by Tim Brimmer, Jordan Jazz has invited high school students from across Indiana and the Midwest to come to campus for a two-day learning experience about the fundamentals of vocal jazz.

The experience includes instruction on critical analysis, critique, performance methods and techniques, Blake Busch, Jordan Jazz officer said.

To further the learning experience, each year Jordan Jazz welcomes a well-known jazz composer, arranger, conductor or performer who works with the students and shares their professional experiences with them.

This year’s festival will feature worldfamous composer and arranger, Paris Rutherford.

Faculty and students in the JordanCollege of Fine Arts are anticipating the opportunity to work with this incredible vocal jazz musician.

“His style, class and colors within every piece reveal the beautiful harmonies that many composers could only attempt to write,” Busch said. “His charts are difficult, but they’ll prove worthy in the end.”

The presence of the Jordan Jazz members is also fundamental to the program, for both instructional and practical purposes.

“Jordan Jazz acts as hosts to the schools and their directors, ensuring that they get to their workshops, meals and activities and making sure they’re having fun,” said Jordan Jazz officer Jackie Gredell.

This year’s Jazz Fest will feature 150 students from 13 different high schools and three colleges from across the Midwest. The students will arrive on campus Nov. 12 and attend an all-day workshop with Jordan Jazz members and guest instructors.

That evening, participants will attend the Blue Man Group performance at Clowes Memorial Hall because, aside from learning about vocal jazz, the two-day experience is meant to be a social opportunity to forge friendships between the high school students and the members of Jordan Jazz.

The relationships between participants in the Jazz Fest are truly the hallmark of the program.

The high schools who apply to participate in the festival are often veterans of the program and are working to instill passion and love for jazz music in their students, just as Brimmer and the members of Jordan Jazz are doing here on Butler’s campus.

“There are so many talents that often get overlooked within schools,” Busch said. “This festival allows for these talents to evolve and develop in ways that some may never have thought possible.”

Saturday, following a morning workshop, the students and their Jordan Jazz mentors will perform two collaborative concerts, one in the afternoon at Clowes and the other at 7 p.m. in the Reilly Room.

“[During the concert,] the choirs get to showcase the charts they’ve been working on within their small groups and with Jordan Jazz,” Gredell said.

The Butler University Jazz Ensemble will play its own section of the concert and will then join in with the high school participants and Jordan Jazz to perform a special piece written by Rutherford, a retired Professor Emeritus in Jazz Studies at the University of North Texas.

The collaboration of Butler students and the high school students promises to provide an outstanding performance, as it has in years past.

Bringing students together in an educational and social experience, which is centered around a passion for jazz music, provides a unique atmosphere of appreciation for sharing knowledge of the arts.

“In my opinion, the best music and art is that which can be shared with others, as well as constantly reinvented and made anew with another person’s ideas and creativity,” Busch said. “I learn more from the guests than they ever will of me.”