4th Ave Jazz: spring comes alive

Yage Wang—Staff Writer

“I hear your voice out in the darkness/Somewhere across the fresh-cut lawn/We’re running barefoot through the wet grass/Nowhere to be until the dawn/Up overhead the stars are burning.”

On, February 26, the 4th Avenue Jazz band cast off the shadowy sentiments of winter with its first song—Green Lights by Sarah Jarosz. As always, the jazz band sprinkled some spice into the mid-semester show for the benefit of students exhausted from schoolwork. Especially this year, the concert served as a playful and cheerful melody to ease the overcast of the pandemic. 

The jazz concert has been a free, semesterly event at Dordt University, providing a small-sized vocal and instrumental feast for students and locals alike. Of the 4th Avenue singers, sixteen individuals comprise the Ryan Smit-directed choir while Kevin Linder, tutorial adjunct for the music department, directs the band. 

Contributed Photo

Many participants in the jazz band shared their appreciation for this community. 

“I joined my sophomore year first semester and this will be my fourth semester of being in the jazz band. And I plan to continue next year until I graduate,” said Carolyn Rayhons, a junior. 

For Rayhons, the jazz band is not only a place where she can continue her personal musical pursuits after high school, but also an opportunity to share quality time with her peers. 

“I think just the way we all get along and we can joke with each other. That’s one of my best memories,” Rayhons said. 

In addition to Rayhons, Isaac Rohne, a sophomore and another active member within it shared his engaging experience within the jazz band. Rohne is a jazz lover, and, like Rayhons, he also enjoys the small musical community. 

“This is my fourth semester in the jazz band.” Rohne said. “The jazz band specifically is a lot of fun because it’s a smaller group. And it’s a little bit more advanced since we move through music a lot faster. And then having a smaller group just means that you know each other and it’s more intimate. That adds a lot to it.” 

The 4th Avenue Band under went subtle changes every year due to the songs and techniques they decided to use. This year, COVID-19 became one of the factors that affected the performance. 

“I guess COVID-19 makes things different but musical-wise, it ends up balancing out because we have a little bit movement of people.” Rohne said. “Something that has been significantly different this year than last year – at least for Nick and me – it has been something called ‘scat.’ And that is basically [where] you have a certain number of measures to make a bunch of weird noises.”

During the latter half of the vocal performance, seniors Damon Groen and Selena Munson brought forward a characteristic solo in “Ain’t That A Kick in The Head”. Then, the 4th Avenue Band led the rest of the jazzy evening. Notably, the brass instruments formed coherent classical jazz, which was filled with smokey, romantic sentiments.

While many audiences love the concert, there are some suggestive voices. 

“The concert is pretty good overall.” Siena Rose, a sophomore with a vocal scholarship said. “I really enjoy the instrumental part and the latter half of the 4th Avenue singers. But the first one, it’s more like a folk song. A folk song you turn into a jazzy folk song.”

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