Featured photo courtesy of Blumenthal Performing Arts and the Jazz Arts Initiative.
It is officially spooky season! So what exactly does that look like? Scarecrows, monsters, witches, scary movies, pumpkins and college students’ grades dropping? If you think about it, does jazz come across your mind?
The Jazz Arts Initiative is a non-profit organization that consists of musicians, educators and individuals who want to contribute to Charlotte’s growing art culture. It is vital to develop an audience for jazz through music education, performance opportunities and musician support. “The Jazz Room” is a series created by the organization designed to showcase talented musicians from across the world. They have shows all throughout the year with different themes. For the fall season, the themed concert was called “Trick or Trick Edition II.”
The President and CEO of Jazz Arts Initiative is Mrs. Lonnie Davis. Davis has a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Music. She also attended the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, where she studied music. Davis has also been involved in various leadership activities within the community, such as Leadership Charlotte and Class XXXII. On top of this, she is also a skilled jazz flutist.
When asked about “The Jazz Room” series, she stated, “My favorite aspect of this program is to bring musicians together. Often times, they meet for the first time and come from different cities. It is really about forming a stronger bond between both regional and local artists. And outside of that, I love seeing the audiences’ faces when they hear these great musicians and educating them on jazz.”
I went to see the Halloween-themed concert on Friday, Oct. 19 at 8:15 p.m. It was held in the Booth Playhouse at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. The building itself was incredibly beautiful. The room was mainly dark. The stage was lit with different colors, such as orange, red, green and purple. The decorations consisted of mini jack-o-lanterns, a screen with halloween pictures and candles. There were tables out in the lobby with black cloths and candy on top. To my surprise, there was a small bar right beside the stage. The adults would casually purchase an alcoholic beverage during the performances.
The concert was fun and I enjoyed myself. The band consisted of a drum player, bass player, pianist, trumpet player and saxophone player. There were also three vocalists that were featured throughout the concert. They all performed Halloween-themed jazz classics, such as songs from “West Side Story,” “Halloween Theme” by John Carpenter, and songs by Frank Sinatra, Herbie Hancock, etc. It gave me goosebumps. My favorite part was the recital of a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. The vocalist recited the poem as the band gave chilly background noise to enhance the thrill. The audience loved every moment of it. They clapped, snapped and hollered. Some people got up to dance a little. Everyone would usually turn to have a light conversation with their neighbor. The whole atmosphere that night was relaxing and “jazzy.” The performers did an encore performance since the audience wanted to hear more music.
The only thing that I did not like about the concert was the absence of programs. I wish I had received a hard-copy program that had a layout of all of the selections that were performed; it would have been nice if I had known the names of the songs. Granted, someone did announce the name of the song about to be performed, but let’s be honest here…who actually pays attention to people talking during a jazz concert? We are here for the jazz and tune out everything else. I also wanted to know more information about the musicians. I wish there was a list of their names with a brief biography and social media account. They were all just incredible musicians. I genuinely wanted to research about them but I did not have a program in my hand.
Overall, I would most definitely recommend the Jazz Room series. It is a great way to experience live music performances and be introduced into the jazz world. Music is when we all can come together and enjoy life, and I must say, they must have put a spell on me because I am going to their next concert!