Swing Club will join Lavender Jazz at October First Fridays.

Goshen College’s Lavender Jazz will team up with GC’s Swing Club for an easy listening and swing dancing event this weekend. This event will take place as part of downtown Goshen’s October First Fridays. This event is an opportunity for GC students to interact with the broader city of Goshen.

This year, the band Lavender Jazz has a new director. Christopher French, adjunct music professor, is replacing Christopher Fashun. In addition to teaching, French is an accomplished clarinetist, saxophonist and flutist who performs in several area ensembles.

In a recent interview, French explained that, “Jazz is important because it is [a unique] American art form that we want to keep alive and thriving. Jazz is an important foundational part of our American culture… and reaches a lot of people of different generations.”

For students, Lavender Jazz provides an opportunity to explore the genre of jazz and improve musically.

Julian Harnish, a first-year jazz pianist, loves jazz band because of the improvisation involved.

Harnish said, “Improvising is such a fun thing to do—difficult, but very rewarding. You start to feel free with the music. It’s fun.”

French added, “For music students, [improvisation] can enhance musical growth no matter what type of music you’re playing. When you improvise, all of the sudden you have to go way deeper into music. Mozart and Beethoven were improvisers.”

For the 2014-2015 year, 15 GC students join with community members to make up Lavender Jazz. The group includes saxophones, trombones, trumpets, drums, piano and vocals in its performances.

“Ultimately, it comes down to this: we as human beings are artistic, creative, imaginative creatures. The jazz, for us here in this society, is an extremely important component of that,” French said.

To support Lavender Jazz, come to the tent on Washington Street this Friday, Oct. 3. The ensemble will play two sets, one at 6 p.m. and one at 8 p.m. The Swing Club will hold dance lessons in between.