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Concert on the Green wraps up Bethel jazz year

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Hoping for good weather, Bethel College jazz groups are preparing for their annual end-of-the-year concert, Jazz on the Green.

Jazz Ensembles I and II will play at 8 p.m. May 10, with the audience invited to bring lawn chairs and blankets for outdoor seating (the concert will move to Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center if the weather is unfavorable).

Jazz on the Green is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken to support jazz study and performance at Bethel College.

This semester, Jazz I played for the Kansas Music Educators Association (KMEA) annual meeting in February, and joined trombone great and jazz educator Wycliffe Gordon for a March 31 concert at Bethel, while Jazz II did their annual gig in Mojo’s in mid-March.

Jazz II will open the May 10 Jazz on the Green. On their set list is “Now’s the Time” by Charlie Parker (arranged by Lennie Niehaus); “Cornbread” by Lee Morgan (arranged by Mark Taylor); “Big Dipper” by Thad Jones (arranged by Mike Carubia); “A Hymn for Her” by Fred Sturm; and “Jumpin’ at the Woodside” by Count Basie (arranged by Rich DeRosa).

Personnel are: saxophones, Jacob Anderson, Newton, Jesus Martinez, Newton, and Ryan Fritz, Salina; trumpets, Gabe Johnson, Abilene, Isaac Dunn, Fresno, California, Abby Phillips, Maple Hill, and Adrian Rogers; trombones, Nate Kroeker, Augusta, Ben Carlson, Hurley, South Dakota, and Seth Larson, Wichita; bass, Matt Buller, Henderson, Nebraska; piano, Matt Lind, Harrisonburg, Virginia; and drums, Bruce Rosario, Pollocksville, North Carolina, and Shawn Bontrager, North Newton.

Joel Linscheid, instructor of music, directs Jazz Ensemble II.

Jazz I, under the direction of Jim Pisano, head of Bethel jazz studies, will follow with “Second Race” by Thad Jones; “Blue Peace” by Scott Ninmer; “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise” by Sigmund Romberg (arranged by Bob McCurdy); “If You could See Me Now” by Tadd Dameron; “I Left My Heart in Francisco” by George Cory (arranged by Thad Jones); “Cubauza” by Michael Mossman; and “Back To the Apple” by Frank Foster.

Jazz Ensemble 1 personnel are: saxophones, Neil Smucker, North Newton, Ben Wiens, Goessel, Westen Gesell, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Zane Richter, McPherson, and Matt Lind; trumpets, Braden Unruh, Goessel, Evan Koch, North Newton, Connor Born, North Newton, and Alec Loganbill, Hesston; trombones, Andrew Thiesen, Newton, Billie Selichnow, Wichita, Brendan Ostlund, Mount Hope, and Nate Kroeker; guitar, Jayce Yoder, Topeka; bass, Eli Brockway, McPherson; piano, Matt Graber, Freeman, South Dakota; drums, Chuck Lenley, Kansas City, Missouri, and Micah Miller, Hesston; and vocals, Elizabeth Friesen Birky, Denver.

“We’re playing some awesome music for Jazz on the Green,” said senior Westen Gesell. “We’ve got a couple really great blues charts like ‘Back to the Apple’ and ‘Second Race,’ but we’ve also got pieces from dramatically different genres.

“‘Cubauza’ is a ferocious – in the best possible sense – piece with a Latin beat, and we also have some vocal numbers that Elizabeth Friesen Birky is sounding really great on.”

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2016–17. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.