Ya Like Jazz?


Avery Hobbs, Contributing Writer

Amici Café was filled with a lively audience and the sound of jazz Tuesday, Feb. 22. Jazz Jam Session is an event put on every year by the GC Music Department to give students and faculty a place to perform and engage with the Milledgeville community.

“We have been doing it [GC Jazz Jam Session] for many years now, it’s a way to get the school music department to connect with the community, it’s a way to get into the community with jazz music,” says Chris Enghauser, event coordinator and GC double bass instructor.

The event featured performances from faculty, students and members of the community playing combinations of Jazz Music.

Students, like GC freshman and music major Preston Raburn enjoyed being able to play alongside their professors and friends.

Raburn has been involved with music for as long as he can remember. He plays the Alto and Tenor Saxophone and plans to be a music instructor after graduation.

Several students stressed what a good opportunity it was to be playing for a crowd like the one at Amici, because of the environment that type of audience creates.

Max Harley, GC junior elaborated on the importance of performing in a community environment, “This is our only chance to engage with a crowd that’s informal because most of the time at our regular concerts, it’s a quiet audience that is remaining professional, whereas here [Amici] we’re playing for a loud restaurant.”

Jazz became popular in the 1920s for its celebration of an individual’s performance style, which offers a million different takes on one song. The audience gets to experience something new every time they listen.

“Jazz is its own art form, and you are able to express yourself through your instrument and say things that even words may not be able to say,” Raburn said.

Among the community members featured in the Jazz Jam Session was Wendell Harrelson, GC alum and retired teacher.

Wendell Harrelson was born into music and has been playing his entire life. He studied at the Navy school of music before his time at GC.

Harrelson recounted playing the Saxophone in the Navy as well as in the Red Coat band at the University of Georgia. He plays every type of Saxophone and travels from Macon to play in events like the GC Jazz Jam Session.

“Any time I get the chance to play with the faculty it’s a lot of fun.”, said Harrelson.

When COVID-19 hit, the music department suffered alongside the campus. Bigger classrooms, masks and outdoor performances quickly became a necessity.

This new semester, however, has seen an increase in the audience sizes and engagement with performances.

“It varies, every night is a little different. You never know what to expect. I noticed that more people are coming out because they are ready to enjoy hearing live music versus hearing canned music,” says Don Parker, GC Music Department Chair.

GC Jazz night is an exciting opportunity for both musicians and audience members. The GC Music Department doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon and aims to set up more events in the community.