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Art Event 2- Musical Art (Jazz Orchestra)

The second art event that I attended was a free concert performed by the Eastern
Washington University Jazz Orchestra. It was held on June 5th, during Art Fest in Coeur
dAlene Park in Browns Addition. The orchestra consisted of sixteen members, playing
four trumpets, four trombones, four saxophones, one guitar, one keyboard, one upright
bass, and one drum set.
The orchestra was lead and conducted by Jenny Kellogg, the director of jazz and
trombone studies at EWU. She has had quite a successful career in music, and holds a
Bachelor of Music degree in trombone performance and music composition and a
Masters of Music degree in jazz studies.
The Saturday of the performance was a warm and sunny day, and most of the
audience was seeking shade wherever they could find it. But the performers were as cool
as could be, soulfully delivering tune after tune to the aurally hungry crowd. I was never
personally exposed to much jazz growing up, but I always enjoyed the smooth and
sometimes chaotic sounds in smaller doses. The band expertly rendered many jazz
classics (popular pieces according to the conductor and audience reactions) and had the
crowd bobbing their heads and tapping their knees along to the beat. Most of those in
attendance seemed to be there purposefully, seeking out a jazz performance in Spokane
that would rarely be found otherwise.
I was moved by how much the members of the orchestra really seemed to care
about the music they were sharing with us. Their enthusiasm whenever a band mate
finished playing a solo was infectious, inciting the audience to cheer along and scream
out for more. The entire concert featured quite a few soloists, including a prominent alto

saxophonist by the name of Chris Shepard. The conductor first introduced the young man
as Spaceman, because of his association with a little organization known as NASA. I
thought the connection odd, until she slyly clarified that NASA stood for the North
American Saxophone Alliance. Chris was actually one of eight finalists during the most
recent NASA competition, and his talent really shined through the songs he accompanied
that afternoon. His technicality sounded crisp and precise without losing any of the
intended feeling of the song. His apparent ease of playing and mastery of his instrument
really impressed me, and I could tell that he truly loved and lived his craft.
Another featured performer was the pianist, a student named Lauren McKinley.
Not only was she presented as a soloist; she was also identified as the composer and
arranger of multiple songs that were played that day. It was hard to believe that someone
so young could be capable of creating music for so many instruments, but her efforts
were validated time and again when the audience cheered following her songs. I was
actually enrolled in musical humanities course at EWU in 2015 where she was a guest
pianist, and I was delighted that I had the chance to see her perform again along side a
full jazz orchestra.
Lauren composed one of the last songs that the orchestra played, entitled Pass
the Salt. The conductor let the audience in on the meaning of the title and general
intentions that Lauren had when creating it. Todays youth culture is known for its many
created and repurposed words and phrases describing life in general, and one of those
words is salty. The term is commonly used to describe a person or their attitude when
they are bitter or angry towards someone else. So in writing the piece, Lauren more or
less means for the listener to rid themselves of those salty feelings because they dont

serve any useful purpose. And that message was surprisingly clear in the strictly
instrumental music. If one can picture how a standard orchestral jazz song might sound,
that is how this particular piece began. There were smooth ups and downs, and plenty of
rhythmic dissonance, until the song reached a crescendo of power chords and agitation. I
could tell this was the point that the song became salty, and it wasnt too long before the
arrangement found resolution and dropped back into a typical jazz manner. Pass the
Salt was easily the best song of the afternoon in my opinion, because it spoke of
situations that a lot of us face every day. I know that I find myself getting caught up in
petty disagreements, when I should just be able to let go and move on with my life, but
hearing that song certainly reminds me of whats really important.