Swing’s the thing at UF: Jazz Ensemble to perform at annual concert

By Miranda Roehler

The University of Findlay Jazz Ensemble is ready to get into the swing of things at its annual concert.

This year’s concert is on Sunday, March 22 at 3 p.m. in the Winebrenner Theological Seminary auditorium.

Admission is free, but tickets are required. Tickets can be picked up in advance at the box office or at the door on the day of the concert.

Katie Mehlow, senior biology/animal science/pre-vet major and Jazz Ensemble president, said it’s not hard to keep positivity flowing in the group, even this close to concert time.

“We all have so much fun,” said Mehlow.

Brandon Merz, junior criminal justice major and Jazz Ensemble vice president, thinks the style of the music itself is what makes Jazz Ensemble enjoyable.

“I like the style of music a lot more and the performances are typically a lot more entertaining and relaxed,” said Merz.

As a result, Merz feels that the audience becomes more involved in the performance.

“I feel that the audience really responds to the music, almost like you become one with the audience,” said Merz.

Jack Taylor, professor of music and Jazz Ensemble director, chose “Swing’s the Thing” as the theme for this year’s concert.

“We’re playing a good number of traditional swing selections for this show,” said Taylor.

Audience members will get the chance to hear the group play 13 songs, including “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You,” “Sing, Sing, Sing,” and “Run Llama Run.”

Mehlow said that “Sing, Sing, Sing” is her favorite piece.

“It’s just a classic, old-school, 1930s swing song, and those are my favorite. It’s also one of the first songs we worked on when we first came together,” said Mehlow.

Three students will perform as featured soloists, including Merz, the first chair trumpet.

Merz said that his feature piece, “Tribute to Louis Armstrong” is his favorite song from the concert.

“It gives me the opportunity to expand on the music and go beyond what is written,” Merz said.

Merz’s feature also serves as a source of inspiration to him.

“As a trumpet player, Louis Armstrong was one of the reasons I picked up the trumpet in the first place. It is a huge honor to play a piece that is centered on his music,” said Merz.

Mehlow, the first chair saxophone, is another featured soloist.

According to Mehlow, her feature piece, “Harlem Nocturne,” is well-known in the jazz community.

“Almost every jazz fan will have heard multiple pros put their own spin on the song,” said Mehlow.

Since the song is popular with jazz fans, Mehlow said it sets a high standard for her.

“The song is slow and sassy and very exposed,” said Mehlow. “I think it really requires the player to be outspoken and confident with their style. I’ve been listening to as many different players and versions of the song that I can so that I can pull out different aspects and make it my own.”

Although Merz and Mehlow admit they are a little nervous about their features, both of them are excited for Sunday’s performance.

“We, as a band, have good music lined up and it will be enjoyable to listen to,” said Merz.

Mehlow feels that the well-roundedness of the music should make the concert entertaining for the audience.

“There are so many different songs that bring out the band’s many personalities,” said Mehlow. “It really shows that we’re having fun with it.”

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