This past October weekend, Goshen’s First Fridays featured a special event: the first season performance of Goshen College’s own Lavender Jazz.
Directed by Adjunct Professor of Music, Christopher French, Lavender Jazz is GC’s jazz band comprised of about twenty students and community members. The band features brass and woodwind instruments, as well as a rhythm section that includes piano, upright bass, vibraphone, drums, and a ukulele.
At the Friday performance, the band played pieces by Count Basie like “Moten Swing,” and “One O’Clock Jump,” as well as other jazz staples, like “Take the A Train,” “Gentle Rain” and “Shining Stockings.” The performance featured two sets, followed by a time for swing dancing lessons led by GC’s Swing Dancing Club. Following the mini lesson, participants were able to try out their new skills during the second set. The First Fridays performance also featured jazz singing from Maggie Weaver, a junior, and a surprise performance from junior, Galed Krisjayanta.
Senior Lucas Harnish has performed with Lavender Jazz on saxophone for four years and particularly enjoys the First Friday event.
“Jazz is definitely best in informal settings,” said Harnish. “I love doing community events and First Fridays. It’s always my favorite performance of the year.”
Grant Flaming, junior trumpet player, was also pleased with the performance.
“The Goshen Theater is an amazing place to perform and it was an awesome venue,” said Flaming. “I liked it a lot.”
The First Fridays performance is the annual opening act for Lavender Jazz. Some years, the event has been hosted outside, but in the past few years the performance has taken place at the downtown Goshen Theater. It is considered Lavender Jazz’s contribution to Homecoming Weekend.
In addition to the First Fridays performance, the Lavender Jazz Band has two formal performances each year which take place in Sauder Concert Hall. Lavender Jazz has also performed at various community and campus events in the past few years, such as at a CAC sponsored swing dancing night.
“Jazz is really much more of an informal style,” said Harnish. “The formal concerts are alright, but it would be really fun to do more casual performances, like a rooftop concert on top of the KMY game room.”
Whether or not Harnish’s dreams come to fruition, Lavender Jazz’s next performance will be November 20 in Sauder Hall. The concert will also feature the GC All-Campus Band.