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Jazz groups to collaborate for fall concert

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Another collaborative concert is on tap at Bethel College, this time involving Bethel and high school jazz musicians.

The Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble, an auditioned honors high school group, and Bethel College Jazz Ensemble I will give a joint concert Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in the Fine Arts Center.

The event is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken to support jazz studies and performance at Bethel.

“This [collaboration] is something I have been doing for the past three years,” said James Pisano, assistant professor of music and director of both groups. “The Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble is comprised of this region’s top high school jazz players, who come to our campus once a week to practice.

“It is essential for jazz musicians to share their musical offerings, not only with audiences, but with one another,” Pisano continued. “Because jazz music is so personal and, specifically, improvisation is unique to each performer, inspiration is gained when musicians can perform for one another as well. This multi-level communication is very beneficial to the growth of this art form.”

Joel Boettger, senior from Hesston and a member of Bethel’s Jazz I, will join the Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble as a featured soloist on one number.

Pisano also noted “special thanks” to jazz supporters Valerie Klaassen, Diane Born, Judy Schrag and Leann Toews for providing refreshments at Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble rehearsals.  

Bethel Jazz I played at the Fall Festival Jazzfest in October, as did Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble members with their respective high school jazz bands.

“We had a tremendously positive response from our Fall Fest performances,” Pisano said, “and [Mid-Kansas Jazz] keeps gaining a lot of momentum. Come enjoy!”

The Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble’s program will comprise “I Be Serious ’Bout Dem Blues” by John Clayton, “Django” by John Lewis (arr. Mike Tomaro), “Central Park West” by John Coltrane (arr. John Fedchock) and “Great Northern Express” by Fred Sturm.

Bethel Jazz Ensemble I will play “Basie Straight Ahead” by Sammy Nestico, “Mama Llama Samba” by Gordon Goodwin, “Riverscape” by Fred Sturm and “Moment’s Notice” by John Coltrane (arr. Frank Mantooth).

Mid-Kansas Jazz Ensemble personnel are: saxophones, Joseph Jumonville (McPherson High School), Jacob Penner (Hesston High School), Zane Richter (McPherson) and Neil Smucker (Newton High School); trombones, Andrew Langston (Wichita East High School) and Brendan Whalen (Wichita East); trumpets, Connor Born (Newton), Alex Fugate (Wichita East), Michael Raephour (Andover High School) and Caleb Zook (Newton); drums, Jon Geidel (Hesston) and Alex Trumble (Newton); piano, Mark Kreider (Newton); and bass, Hunter Shirley (Wichita East).

Jazz Ensemble I personnel are: alto saxophones, Daniel Barrera, Newton, and Paul Voran, Newton; tenor saxophones, Joel Boettger, Hesston, and Jordan Ortman, Marion, S.D.; baritone saxophone, Carl Lehmann, Marion, S.D.; trumpets, Kyle Doesken, Derby, Evan Koch, Colorado Springs, Colo., Tim Regier, Newton, and Braden Unruh, Goessel; trombones, Rob Tierney, Hesston, Andrew Thiesen, Newton, Rebecca Trumble, Newton, and Issei Tsuji; drums, Levi Miller; bass, Landon Bartel, Newton; guitar, Megan Siebert, Topeka; and piano, Ian Gingrich-Gaylord, Newton.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the 2012-13 analysis of premier colleges and universities in the United States and ranks in the top five “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2012-13. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see


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