Lavender Jazz presented instrumental solos, surprise singers and warped guitar sounds in Umble Center under purple backdrops and orange overhead lights last Friday.

The ensemble boomed throughout the building in a groovy and energetic chorus, playing nine unique songs. According to Greg Smucker, the director and adjunct professor, its “in your face” style paired with the small venue and sizable band added to the fun.

“We came over to Umble [from the music center] because we’re getting lost in Sauder when only 100 people or less were showing up,” Smucker said. “And over time the crowd has gotten bigger. The bands [have] gotten bigger.”

Trombones lined the right side with the trumpets behind them. On the left, saxophones mirrored this layout, with a prominent piano and lone bassist plucking away beside it. In the middle, the guitarist and percussionist kept the beat. 

In the classroom, prior to the concert, Smucker focused on teaching the various styles that come with jazz all while developing the students improvisation skills.

“Every week we work on improvisation, which a lot of students don’t have planning into college, so that’s always fun,” he said. “It’s an area some [students] are exploring for the first time, and it’s different than learning [from]  … [music] notes.”

The music and performances weren’t the only things enamoring the crowd — the blue and purple hues of the stage backdrop and the use of overhead lighting enabled an emotionally charged ambiance, being utilized differently for each song.

“When I’m doing lighting for a jazz show specifically, I usually try and match the energy that the performers are putting out,” said Conrad Liechty, a senior sustainability major and the lighting operator. “But a lot of the time it’s just sort of the mood that they’re going for.”

The concert included saxophone, trumpet, trombone, vibes and tuba solos that played throughout the night. Halfway into the set, four student vocalists were invited from the audience to perform “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got That Swing)” by Duke Ellington.

“I think it’s really cool and I love being able to expose other people to jazz,” said Vaughn Smoker, a first-year biology major and band member. “I don’t know how many people know jazz, just without it being shown to [them].”

The encore opened with a powerful crescendo, all instruments working together, filling the hall with sounds from each player while an assortment of lights and colors encapsulated the entire perfomance.