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Fall jazz concert a collaboration between collegiate, high school players

September 11th, 2017

by Cassie Josselyn

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – It’s all about that jazz when the Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble joins Bethel College Jazz Ensemble I for its fall concert.

The event is Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center on the Bethel campus. There is no admission charge, but a freewill offering will be taken to support Bethel jazz study and performance.

Jazz Ensemble I will play “Slightly Off The Ground” by Tom Kubis, “Figure It Out” by Scott Ninmer, vocal numbers “Exactly Like You” by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields and “Embraceable You” by George and Ira Gershwin (featuring Jill Siebert, senior from Topeka), and “Avenue C” by Buck Clayton as played by Count Basie.

Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble (MKJE) will be performing “Council Grove Groove” by Frank Mantooth, “Emancipation Blues” by Oliver Nelson, “Laura” by David Raksin as played by Duke Ellington, and “A Night in Tunisia” by Dizzy Gillespie.

“I picked this literature because it’s very diverse,” said James Pisano, Bethel director of jazz studies.

“‘Laura’ and ‘Avenue C’ are staples of the Duke Ellington and Count Basie Orchestras, which were very popular bands of the swing era. ‘Figure It Out’ and ‘Council Grove Groove’ are more contemporary harmonically, and evoke more modern rhythms. ‘Exactly Like You’ and ‘Embraceable You’ are vocal numbers.

“As you can see, there will something for everyone’s taste.”

The concert will feature two guest soloists – Bethel music faculty Joel Linscheid, tenor saxophone, and Nick Schroeder, trumpet.

“The theme of this concert is one of collaboration,” Pisano said.

“MKJE is an auditioned high school honors jazz band in residence here at Bethel College. [The joint concert] is an opportunity for them to hear the highly polished work of Bethel Jazz Ensemble I.

“It’s also a chance for Bethel students and community to see the fine jazz instruction occurring at high schools throughout the region, [where] the students of MKJE are collaborating with students from different programs.

“Plus,” he added, “it’s a chance for the members of all of the groups to perform with outstanding Bethel College jazz instructors Nick Schroeder and Joel Linscheid.”

Pisano noted that MKJE rehearses at Bethel every Monday evening, while Bethel Jazz Ensemble I has been practicing this music twice a week since Fall Festival in early October.

“It’s very inspirational to me to hear the students working on this music outside of rehearsal, too, in the practice rooms,” he said. “Their motivation and dedication to jazz music is really exciting.”

Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble personnel are: saxophones, Michael Klein (Derby High School), Justen Schroeder (Newton High School), Jon Kohl (Maize High School), Sarah Pham (McPherson High School) and Devin Hatfield (Valley Center High School); trumpets, Paxton Leaf (McPherson), Michaela Ensor (Derby), Robert Mabrey (Hesston High School) and Adrian Rogers (Newton); trombones, Justin Koegeboehn (Maize), Zach Wiens (Goessel High School), Sam Bartel (Hesston) and Freddie Loeffler (Hesston); guitar, Brady Volkmann (Bishop Carroll High School, Wichita) and Ben Peyton (Newton); bass, Jules White (Wichita Collegiate High School); and drums, Vaughn Craddock (Collegiate) and Sean Whalen (Wichita East High School).

Bethel College Jazz Ensemble I personnel are: saxophones, Neil Smucker, sophomore from North Newton, Ben Wiens, sophomore from Goessel, Westen Gesell, junior from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Chase Ebeling, senior from Hutchinson, and Matt Lind, junior from Harrisonburg, Virginia; trumpets, Braden Unruh, senior from Goessel, Tim Regier, senior from Newton, Connor Born, freshman from North Newton, and Alec Loganbill, freshman from Hesston; trombones, Issei Tsuji, senior from Chiba, Japan, Andrew Thiesen, junior from Newton, Billie Selichnow, sophomore from Wichita, and Josh Janzen, senior from Henderson, Nebraska; French horns, Rebecca Schrag, freshman from Newton, and Suzy Ewy, freshman from Parlier, California; guitar, Jayce Yoder, freshman from Topeka; bass, Eli Brockway, freshman from McPherson; piano, Matt Graber, junior from Freeman, South Dakota; and drums, Adam Voth, senior from Goddard.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2015-16 analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States, and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2015-16. 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.