Warm, rich tones and progressive harmonies waft over the area outside the Coffee Collaborative every Monday night during Monday Night Jazz Residency, featuring the musical stylings of students from a jazz band made up entirely of UCSB students.
Started by third-year music major Miller Wrenn mid-way through last quarter, Monday Night Jazz allows student musicians — who normally may only get to play concerts once a quarter — the opportunity to play in front of a live audience every week. According to Wrenn, who plays stand-up bass, these weekly “gigs” allow people to either sit and listen or join in and jam, making Monday nights at the Coffee Collab “a lab for composition.”
“It’s a more public creative endeavor. There’s plenty of bands and stuff around I.V. but they’re mostly playing parties and shows,” Wrenn said. “It’s more of a public forum for the musically creative people of Isla Vista.”
According to third-year aquatic biology major and saxophone-player Jonah Tarashansky, Monday Night Jazz features a fluid audience, with “people always coming in, from the street and from outside,” allowing the band more freedom to play a wide variety of music, from bebop to ballads to Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.”
“When you play for an audience, you always strive to impress, and so I’ve improved leaps and bounds,” Tarashansky said. “Practicing helps to get techniques. But for me, [performing] with others and for others is when you learn the most.”
Second-year music composition major Jake Goldman, who plays jazz guitar, said Monday Night Jazz allows student jazz musicians the ability to become more explorative with their music, by taking their compositions to a realm outside the classroom.
“We all wanted to start playing jazz in a way that was less classroom-oriented,” Goldman said. “We wanted to play more original music and fewer tunes from the jazz book.”
Tarashansky agreed, saying the “live” aspect of their performance encourages musical self-improvement.
“I learn more every week than when I practice at school,” Tarashansky said. “I feel pressure from myself and others to impress.”
According to Goldman, along with improved playing performance and the ability to read music “on the fly,” Monday Night Jazz brings a new and sophisticated ambiance to the “typical I.V.” atmosphere.
“I guess you could say we’re bringing classy music to Pardall every Monday,” Goldman said. “It’s new for a lot of people, hearing live jazz. It’s good music to study to. You can let it flow over you, and if you need to take a break, you can also listen carefully and there’ll be some complex stuff going that’s fun to listen to.”
Encouraging students and faculty to attend, Goldman also said the band takes requests, saying, “If you have any jazz tunes you like, you can shout them out at us and we’ll play them.”
Photos by Kenneth Song / Daily Nexus
A version of this story appeared on page 5 of Wednesday, January 15, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.