NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodNeenah


'Makes me feel like I'm flying': The connective power of jazz music felt around the world

Lawrence University Jazz Quintet on International Jazz Day 2023
Posted at 11:46 PM, Apr 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-01 00:46:55-04

NEENAH (NBC 26) — International Jazz Day is an annual celebration of jazz and its globally connective power. The holiday was declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2011. It is honored every April 30.

This year, the Lawrence University Jazz Quintet honored the holiday with its fourth installment of a jazz concert series at the Neenah Public Library. The concert connected community members of all ages with jazz lovers around the world.

“Today is just a big celebration of all this music that we all love. Jazz music, right? It's a global celebration," said Lawrence University's Director of Jazz Studies Jose Encarnacion.

He said that he was thrilled to see so many Wisconsinites participating in an event that was only a tiny piece of the appreciation going on worldwide.

“They have about 1,100 events happening today. And one of the things that I love about these celebrations is that they have an educational component to it too," Encarnacion said.

The educational component is almost an inherent part of the music, according to Lawrence University senior Liam Traynor.

“Jazz as a tradition is an — it's an oral tradition. All of the greats learned by transcribing and listening to all of their favorite jazz musicians," Traynor said. "And it's the same today. So, for anybody who wants to be a better jazz musician, or get into jazz, listening is definitely the best best thing.”

Many of the audience members were able to ask questions of the young musicians. The quintet said the chance to answer those questions was invigorating.

“Sometimes we don't always get a ton of chances to interact with the community, and I certainly love being able to get out here and share what we're doing and just to see all the incredible support that is out there for music and for jazz," said Lawrence University student Reese Pike.

The support comes from people of all ages.

"I think jazz education is very important for all the kids that have come to these concert series, and it's really cool to see them in the audience and inspire the youth," added fellow student and quintet member Vivian Shanley.

Twelve years ago, UNESCO acknowledged jazz music as an art with the ability to unite people from all corners of the globe. And performers of it, like quintet member Owen Brady, say that ability is undeniable.

“To me, jazz is a really social music. It's a relationship between performers and other performers, and performers and the audience. And I think communicating that joy and that ecstasy with other people as well as, you know, the people that I get to share the bandstand with is the reason that I love to do it," Brady said. "I think good jazz makes me feel like I'm flying. And I try to make other people feel that way.”

For more information on International Jazz Day, and to see more videos of the celebrations that took place around the world, you can visit the holiday's official website.