At a time where tensions are high and the future is uncertain, Gustavus students are looking for anything to distract themselves. For Junior Anya Menk, jazz is the best way to do just that.
Menk, a music education major with an instrumental focus, created a new club this year with Senior Co-President Matt Guilette.
The Gustavus Jazz Club is an organization made up of students and staff who share a common passion for all things jazz.
“Our goal is to celebrate jazz and study it in a way that complements the current curriculum here at Gustavus.”
-Junior Anya Menk
This semester, participants will be taking a closer look at the life and music of jazz musician Miles Davis. Already, the club has put on a listening party event where they were able to listen to Davis’ music and have a discussion in a Zoom meeting.
“Our next event of the semester is going to be the jam session where we’ll get to play the tunes by Miles Davis,” Menk said.
This jam session will take place from 8-10 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 23 in Björling recital hall. In order to observe COVID-19 safety measures, there will be two sessions with a maximum capacity of twenty people per session. All participants will be required to wear a face mask, provide their own microphone, and be spaced at least ten feet apart.
According to Menk, these jam sessions are “open to everyone and anyone” regardless of their musical ability.
The Gustavus Jazz Club isn’t picky on instruments, either.
“We’re trying to expand outside of the general constraints of what instrumentation would be for a jazz setting,” Menk said.
What this means for interested students and staff members is that they are free to come to sessions and play their primary instrument of choice.
In addition to events like listening parties and jam sessions, Menk is also planning a reading in common activity this coming J-term on a biography about Miles Davis to learn more about his life as a musician and his music
In a hopefully COVID-free future, the Gustavus Jazz Club wants to visit local live jazz events. One place in particular that Menk wants to visit is Jazz Central Studios in Minneapolis. This is where visitors can listen to local jazz artists or join talented musicians in various jam sessions. Menk believes this would be a great opportunity for the Jazz Club.
“Everyone has their own style, so it’s fun to watch different players,” Menk said.
The Gustavus Jazz Club is meant to inspire and educate as well as provide a space for members of the community to come together to create music.
“We created [the club] because there are a lot of people in the jazz program here who are super passionate about jazz…[The] club that [reflects] and [celebrates] that.”
To participate in the club, students and staff can email Menk or Guilette to be added to the email alias to be notified of events. Time-commitment for the club is minimal.
“It’s whatever people want to commit to. We hold meetings regularly, but no one is required to come to them,” Menk said.
For Menk, the best part about this club is being able to play with other people again. After the pandemic struck, many musicians were unable to play with others. Now, students and staff are able to play all together again and Menk couldn’t be more excited.
“Being able to sing and play with people again is something I’m trying not to take for granted,” Menk said.