All that jazz

In a diverse community of student music organizations, VoJazz stands out with its smooth medleys and swinging scats.

VoJazz performs a wide variety of both modern and traditional jazz selections ranging from swing to Latin styles and ballads. This collection of music is emotional and inspiring, sophomore bass singer Connor Wolcott said.

“Words aside, the music itself is so uplifting and so exciting,” he said. “It makes you want to dance.”

The ballads are slower and aimed to make listeners feel a loss, Wolcott continued. The Latin songs are more upbeat and fun.

His favorite songs to cover are “New Day” and “Was I in Love Alone?” The first has a positive message and leaves Wolcott feeling happy after performances. The latter is a direct reflection of a previous time in his life, he said.

For pianist and teaching assistant Alberto Ferro, the songs are breathtaking and give concerts the warm atmosphere the singers strive for.

“Sometimes I get lost in listening to their harmonies,” he said.

Freshman soprano/alto Amara Reitz said the best thing about jazz music is the soul put into the music. Members use personal experience to evoke an emotional response.

“It’s such an emotional art that the people you sing with you really expose yourself to,” Wolcott said.

Choir members are all there for each other, Wolcott said, giving way for a very close relationship between VoJazz members. Though they admitted the group can be awkward, sarcastic and sometimes dysfunctional, Wolcott and Reitz both insist it’s one big happy family.

Difficulties do occasionally arise. Ferro said it can be hard communicating with the singers as instrumentalists and singers speak related but different languages.

Things aren’t always easy, whether it’s the music, the people or the director, Wolcott said. Some days are better than others.

 “As a performer, it’s hard for a singer to meld with other singers, especially in jazz,” Ferro said. “We succeed.”

Despite the hard times, Wolcott and Reitz said they still have fun and are good friends with their fellow members. The emotional art of jazz music helps the members bond, said Wolcott.

The VoJazz group is fresh off the road from the Frank DeMiero Jazz Festival in Edmonds, where it and four other university choirs performed.

They also attended master classes to learn from other jazz artists.

“It’s not really ‘competition’ competition,” Reitz said. “We perform, then get feedback.”

During their time in Edmonds, they attended master classes that allowed them to interact with and learn from experienced jazz artists. Members spent time with style professionals before going to a practice vocal improvisation session.

Students wanting to join VoJazz next semester should prepare now, Wolcott said, as auditions will be hosted in the fall. To sign up, contact band director Dean Leuthi at [email protected]

VoJazz’s next concert will be March 27, featuring world-class Pacific Northwest jazz singer Greta Matasa.