Smooth and contemporary jazz music poured through J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom March 9.
Community members, faculty and staff attended the second annual Jazz Speakeasy hosted by the Community Connections group, affiliated with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Music was provided by the Northwest Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo under the direction of Fine and Performing Arts Assistant Chair, Bill Richardson while Adam Gonzales, Coordinator of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, provided music between each jazz set.
Junior Delaney Lynam has been part of the Northwest Jazz Ensemble for two years.
“I didn’t start appreciating jazz until my senior year, but the friends I’ve made within the ensemble and being part of the trumpet section has been a great experience,” Lynam said.
Lynam said a lot of hard work and preparation was crucial for the speakeasy.
“We started preparing a lot of the music about three weeks ago; it was stressful but it was worth it,” Lynam said.
The event was a come-and-go fundraiser for Northwest’s Pay It Forward fund, which provides assistance with student’s emergency needs such as course supplies, unexpected medical costs, tuition assistance and transportation needs.
Sue Nickerson, a Pay It Forward committee member, revamped the program in 2013 alongside co-worker and co-committee member Jody Throener.
“The program began as an emergency loan opportunity for students to borrow $75 with the expectation the funds would be paid back,” Nickerson said. “It was difficult for students to pay money back, so with the new concept students are expected to donate hours volunteering in the community, campus events, food pantry or tutoring others.”
Nickerson said Pay It Forward is a form of intervention that helps students to be successful.
“The funds are designed to reduce barriers and increase the opportunity to achieve higher education, it’s not intended as a handout, as it’s a way of developing citizenship, relationships and understanding,” Nickerson said.
The event also included an array of canapes and a cash bar for drinks, while guests enjoyed socializing and dancing.
Holly Kathol from Hartington, Nebraska, who now lives in Maryville, Missouri, has always been a fan of the 1920s.
“Ever since the movie ‘The Great Gatsby,’ the music within the film fascinated me with the 1920s era, so when I saw this event online and the theme for it, I had to come,” Kathol said.
Kathol said jazz music is something different that people should listen to more often.
“I played in a jazz band in high school for 4 years, so jazz music is something I have always listened to,” Kathol said. “Nowadays, it’s something that people don’t instantly listen to on the radio, so these types of events are always a nice switch.”
Junior Ryan Woltkamp enjoyed playing at the event.
“It was a much more loose atmosphere than most of our concerts, so it felt good that we were all having more fun with the music, and I got more chances to do solo pieces,” Woltkamp said.
This was Woltkamps’ first year in the ensemble. He was exposed to jazz music through his grandpa.
“Jazz is the bedrock of all modern American music, and in my opinion, is the most exciting music genre and style,” Woltkamp said.
More than $800 was raised at the event, which will help students access all available resources for grants or funding from financial aid.