Abigail Meredith, Assistant Arts Editor
The stars of success shone brightly on Oklahoma Baptist University’s Night of Jazz. Its strings of warm lights and relaxed fall theme gave the Mabee Suite the professional yet creative glow fitting for a jazz club. At 11 p.m. Saturday, October 29 students and faculty, as well as Shawnee natives came together to dance or sit and chat, enjoying the live music and free refreshments late into the night.
Professor Justin Pierce, the director of the OBU Jazz Orchestra, explained the event.
“Night of Jazz is an evening concert in a jazz club environment where listeners can hear music in a close up and intimate setting.”
Other universities have jazz concerts and clubs in more suburban areas. Now Shawnee can experience the same atmosphere right here at OBU.
“I would speculate that the event began because Oklahoma City and Edmond are forty minutes to an hour away,” Pierce said. “So it’s a unique opportunity to hear music like this in a venue like this here in Shawnee.”
Night of Jazz didn’t always reside in Mabee Suite and was not always open to the general public.
“Night of Jazz is something the jazz band does when it gets together with Kappa Kappa Si (The Band service club),” a junior pastoral ministry major and member of the OBU Jazz orchestra, Jarett Corbin said. “It started out as a time when people could enjoy music together. The jazz band wanted more performances because they used to not do performances a lot. They decided to make it like a jazz coffee shop type thing, and when OBU legalized dancing on campus they added that as well.”
Night of Jazz has undergone changes concerning its place here on campus over the years.
“They used to host it in Sarkey’s Black Box Theatre,” Pierce said. “It started out as a branch of the University Concert Series, and some changes in the administration and student leadership caused it to depart from that series. So now it’s solely under the umbrella of the music department.”
Of course, there exists a notable difference between the formal concerts hosted by the music department and the Night of Jazz.
“Most of the other music events occur here in Raley chapel or Potter auditorium, or Yarborough,” Pierce said. “They’re a little more formal. So, even though people do sometimes dress up for this event, I think listeners might feel more connected to the performers because they are so close and they can hear more nuances in the music.”
While OBU is filled with multiple talent concerts on campus like Follies or Biggie, Night of Jazz differentiates itself from the others.
“It is the atmosphere. It’s a lot more relaxed, and less like a mob than in a typical concert,” Corbin said. “A typical concert you get to sit in a seat listening to an hour of music which is kind of cool, but Night of Jazz has a nice coffee-club type feel. We’ve got tables in the corners set up. It feels like a café with a little combo in the corner playing live music.”
Other than differentiating itself from other student-performed concerts, Night of Jazz offers much more than good dancing music and food.
“I think it’s one of the most relaxed things the music department does,” Corbin said. “And the fact that it’s usually near the end of the semester, before final papers and tests roll around- it’s just a nice night to eat food, listen to soft jazz music, and relax.”