A jazz band is photographed on a tan colored theater stage with the audience up front.
Attendees at the Jazz Lab Band Performance: Jazz Lab Band I at the University Arts Building on Oct. 22. Jayden Perez/Nevada Sagebrush.

The recital hall was warmly lit with wood paneling across the walls and ceiling. A variety of people walked in and found their seats in the open recital hall. Despite the size of the hall, the setting felt intimate and cozy. The chatter of the room floated in the air as light jazz played over the speakers softly while people waited for the performance to begin. The lights dimmed and the crowd started cheering as the band lined up on the stage.

On Tuesday, Oct. 22, the University of Nevada Reno’s Jazz Lab Band I performed. The lab contains the university’s more advanced and experienced jazz students and chooses members by audition. These students normally only play once a semester.

Once the stage was prepared and everyone was in their place, the performance started off with a bang. The burst of energy and excitement was overwhelming at first but never took a break and sucked the audience right in. The music they played had a very nostalgic feel to it as well. The music brought to mind older times experienced by few today—an old black and white film of a room full of smiling, dancing people. 

This feeling of nostalgia that pervaded the hall was intentional. The conductor told the audience how the lab did their best to hit swing band music and a variety of styles. They played pieces from those times—adapted to their class from multiple jazz artists that were known for the swing band sound.

As the performance progressed the music shifted throughout. Jazz was clearly still being played, but each song sounded distinct from one another. Each song had one of the students walk up and play with the spotlight on them while the others provided supporting sounds to them. Each song had a different pace and feeling portrayed for them. The next song right after the introduction started off quiet, but then rapidly picked up by the end.

The band was also very coordinated and finely tuned. Throughout the performance, a section of the band would play in unison with actions almost paired with one another. This unity behind the lab helped work to keep the music fun, exciting, but seamless. 

The entire performance was very well done, but several components stood out among the rest. At one point in the performance, most of the band took a rest while the piano got the spotlight. It began quite slowly but as time went on, the piano increased in speed. Eventually, it felt almost as if a type of ragtime was being played due to the fun bubbly sound of the piano. The piece ended just as lightly as it had begun, and the audience applauded as the rest of the band began their next song.

The entire performance was formatted similarly in a way. Each song had so much going on to keep it moving, whether that be the determined drums and bass, or any of the other instruments. Each song had an energy and no one person stole the spotlight, each member of the band had their part to play. While not all of them may have received a flashy intro, they all played excellently.

The best way to describe the atmosphere of the event is how it ended. Once the final song concluded, there was a moment where everyone sat still. The composer then motioned to the crowd, and the spell was broken. The crowd then proceeded to pick up and start to leave, but only after a thoroughly engaging performance. Their next performance is one you don’t want to miss.

Jayden Perez can be reached at ryleejackson@sagebrush.unr.edu, or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.