Music Medley

UW-Eau Claire jazz ensembles perform at The Cabin

Jenna Erickson

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Eau Claire eats
April 2, 2020

Photo by Taylor Wilkinson

Jazz Ensembles III and IV performed on Nov. 19 at the Cabin .

“I love jazz because it seems like you learn something new everyday when you play or listen to it,” Nick Miskimen, a second-year instrumental music education student, said. “For me, jazz is still an open book, and I am still reading the first couple chapters.”

According to the UW-Eau Claire website, Jazz Ensembles III and IV performed at the Cabin in Davies Center on Tuesday, Nov. 19 from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. This event was free and open to the public, the website said.

Jeffrey Crowell, professor of music and director of Jazz III, said the group played about 13 total pieces between both bands.

A professor at UW-Eau Claire for 18 years now, Crowell said he continues to be blown away by these jazz students. 

“I just love getting to rehearse and work with students on our semester concert and then be able to see the growth that happens when we perform,” Crowell said. “The students here always surprise me on how much ground we can cover in a semester.”

According to the UW-Eau Claire website, music and non-music students alike are welcome to be a part of one of the four jazz ensembles offered at UW-Eau Claire. 

Miskimen, who plays the saxophone, said he has played in Jazz III for three semesters.

“Jazz has been my favorite type of music to listen to, so I’ve found a lot of jazz saxophonists who I really love, players like John Coltrane and Charlie Parker, and modern players like Kenny Garret and Miguel Zenón,” he said.

These famous jazz musicians and his peers around him are always encouraging him to become a better musician and player, he said.

“Everyone around me is pushing me to get better, even if they are not meaning to,” Miskimen said. “There is a lot of healthy competition that I feel pushes everyone to want to improve.” 

Not only do his peers push him, but future band students who will enter the program do as well.

“I really want to be a good example to future band students wanting to get into jazz, so that pushes me to be the best I can be,” Miskimen said.

Michael St. Ores, a fourth-year organizational communications student, said playing at a venue like the Cabin is perfect for jazz, due to the intimacy with the audience and the accessibility that it provides for students. 

“The Cabin is a versatile venue but has its limitations in capacity and configuration options,” St. Ores said. “However it wasn’t designed for large-scale concerts or large chamber ensembles for example. Therefore, it achieves the objectives it was created for.”

This is his seventh semester in the band playing trumpet in Jazz III, he said.

“Every performance and every rehearsal produces a unique product, and nothing created in jazz is ever going to be the same,” he said. “It’s an art form built around improvisation and therefore creates one of the most diverse and creatively free platforms available to musicians.”

Nothing compares to the energy jazz music brings to every venue, he said.

“The energy transfer between the performers and the audience, and the electricity that is created in a room where brand-new and powerful music is being created” is why he loves Jazz so much, St. Ores said. 

Hans Fuerst, a second-year music education student, is the piano player for Jazz III. He said performing also gives him a certain sense of exhilaration and energy.

“When everything comes in together and all the musicians are in sync — there isn’t much that can top how that feels for me,” Fuerst said.

To find out about other university jazz concerts, check the UW-Eau Claire Calendar.

Erickson can be reached at [email protected].