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Spring and jazz go together at annual outdoor concert

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by Erin Bradley

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Following another successful festival performance in Colorado, Bethel College jazz groups take the stage for the annual end-of-semester Jazz on the Green concert May 8.

The event starts at 8 p.m. with the audience invited to bring lawn chairs and blankets for outdoor seating (though the concert will move to Krehbiel Auditorium in the Fine Arts Center if the weather is unfavorable).

Bethel College Jazz Ensemble I and Jazz Combo I traveled to the University of Northern Colorado April 18-20 to participate in the annual Greeley Jazz Festival, where both groups received superior ratings.

“I am really proud of them,” said James Pisano, Bethel director of jazz studies. “They sounded phenomenal. They worked so hard and that definitely came off in their performance. It was also nice to see some Bethel constituents there.”

Jazz Ensemble II opens the evening with “Work Song” by Nat Adderly, “It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing” by Duke Ellington, “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” (Eric Maschwitz/Manning Sherman) and “Easy to Love” by Cole Porter. Renee Reimer, senior from Sioux Falls, S.D., will be the featured vocalist.

Jazz Ensemble I will perform mostly new pieces for Jazz on the Green, although Pisano said, “We might do a couple of pieces we performed at Greeley. That program was a feature of the music from the Count Basie Orchestra.”

Jazz Ensemble I’s program will include “Green Piece” by Maria Schneider, “Walking About” by Thad Jones, “Softly, as  in a Morning Sunrise” (Sidney Romberg/Oscar Hammerstein II) and “Runferyerlife” by Bob Mintzer.

Pisano noted that one of Jazz Ensemble I’s numbers will include a special guest soloist.

“We have a varied program of classic jazz standards with vocal and instrumental,” Pisano said, “and then a number of modern, contemporary pieces, so something for everyone.

“This concert is always a culmination of the work that we’ve done throughout the entire year,” he added. “And this year has been great, particularly this semester with the Greeley Festival, but also Jazz Combo I’s performance at the Kansas Music Educators Association earlier in the year. It’s been very exciting.”

Jazz Ensemble II personnel are: Carl Lehmann, Marion, S.D., alto saxophone; Andrew Unruh, Valley Center, baritone saxophone; Jessie Pohl, Moundridge, bassoon; Sarah Evans, Colorado Springs, Colo., trombone; Ethan Knight, Moundridge, and Andrew Ewy, Parlier, Calif., trumpets; Renee Reimer, piano; Rachel Evans, Bel Aire, bass; and Adam Voth, Wichita, drums.

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

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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