Lewis Armstrong once said, “Man, if you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.”
Whether or not that holds true, the Jazz Festival took place on Saturday, Feb. 14, and featured Kansas City jazz band, The Project H.
The Project H is a seven-piece ensemble recently chosen as Kansas City’s best jazz ensemble by Pitch magazine.
In charge of this event was Bob Long, assistant professor in music.
“It’s something different for the students to hear. It’s just exposing the students to different groups that are around,” Long said.
In addition to this exposure for the students, The Project H had an educational purpose for being there. The Project H members were in charge of teaching individual clinics for different instruments.
One The Project H member there that day was Ryan Heinlein. Heinlein came in touch with Long thanks to a former Western student Heinlein taught trombone lessons to.
Having played with Long in Kansas City before, these two musicians have been trying to get The Project H to come up and play at the Jazz Festival, this being the first year they have finally been able to do it.
“Things [like this are] about the kids and getting younger students involved with not just jazz but music in general,” Heinlein said.
This event began when Long came to Western with the goal being that the Jazz Festival would be more educational than it was competitive. This event was free and open to the public, and has been done every year for nine years according to Long, and has a goal in education.
“It is aimed to help the schools in this area to develop their jazz programs,” Long said.
Various local high schools attended the Jazz Festival to perform. After performing their pieces, they were given pointers on how to better themselves in their endeavors.
This event was not just attended by local high schools, but by young children as well to learn about music and jazz while they were attending the Jazz Festival here at Western.
“I remember when I was a high-schooler, going to events like this and seeing clinicians or seeing professional musicians perform, those are some of my lasting memories of my high school music career,” Heinlein said. “So, now that I’m on the other side and having that opportunity to do it for younger kids, I jump at the opportunity to do work with high school and middle school kids.”
This festival provides an educational experience that not all students or children get to have.
Two members of the Western Jazz Ensemble, Tarquin Kellogh and Alex Hagenbugh, took part in the Jazz Festival. Kellogh points out that this non-competitive event is meant for educational purposes.
“Nobody is competing against each other and everybody has a chance to grow and that’s why I like to be a part of it,” Kellogh said.
Hagenbugh shares Kellogh’s view on the education of the festival.
“It’s an honor for me to be a part of this. I love the philosophy of the festival, the way its set up is it’s more about education and teaching the groups,” Hagenbugh said.
“The things we have been trying to do for this festival for the last few years is, again, further and nurture the education of the students in this unique American art form,” Long said.
Long hopes more students will be in attendance in the future to listen to the jazz ensemble and see what they can learn.
“I would like to encourage other people on campus to come hear our jazz groups perform, and it would be nice to see what other cultural music is on campus,” Long said.