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A Pandemic Can't Stop Knox College's Jazz Program

Updated: Jun 21, 2021

By Eleanor Sevigny

Published January 28, 2021 in The Burg GALESBURG - In April of 2020 Andy Crawford the Managing Director of Knox Jazz Year cancelled the Rootabaga Jazz Festival because of the Covid-19 pandemic. After cancelling the event Crawford made a decision, “I was determined not to cancel more events. I prepared our program for every contingency plan. This led to changing what jazz looks like for our community because of Covid-19.” “Right now at Knox we do not have a big band. Ensembles are made up of 10 people or less. Musicians have to use custom made masks for their woodwind instruments. We no longer have Thursday night jazz performances. As a professional musician I’ve lost a lot of my work. It’s not just me. Musicians all over the world are hurting,” Crawford lamented. Despite the hardships that Covid-19 has brought to the musical community, Crawford has achieved his goal of not cancelling anymore events by revisioning them. The Jerome Mirza Jazz Residency will be hosted on Knox College’s Youtube Channel. The Jerome Mirza Jazz Residency keynote speakers will do a presentation followed by a live question and answer session. The jazz residency series schedule is as follows: January 31 Amir ElSaffar Beyond the Other Shore - Transcultural Music Making, February 21 Allison Miller Creative Making RIGHT NOW!, March 7 Fabian Almazan Developing a Voice: Approaches to Self - Teaching, March 21 Ndudzo Makhathini Imporvisation in Jazz as Divination: A (South) African Context, April 11 Ulysses Owens Jr. The Musician’s Career Guide: Turning Your Talent Into Sustained Success, and May 2 Jeremy Cunningham Breaking Down the Fourth Wall. All presentations will be at 3 pm. For the series finale Jeremy Cunningham and his ensemble will perform his moving project The Weather Up There live in concert on May 16, 4 pm on the Knox campus. Crawford’s determination also resulted in the Rootabaga Jazz Festival going virtual as well on April 16 and 17. “Rootabaga will be fairly different than it has been,” Crawford admitted. “There will be no alumni band performance and we are not sure if we will be able to do a performance at the library for kids this year,” Crawford explained. There will be a virtual school tour for the District 205 schools. Tito Carrillo will record a video for each of the schools with Jason Brannon, Whitney Ashe, and Andy Crawford. As far as the other performances go, Rootabaga will not have a performance at Fat Fish this year. “Instead our performances will be held at The Orpheum. We hope to open up our performances to a limited audience, but will not know if that is possible until closer to the event.” Crawford explained. Rootabaja’s schedule is as follows: Soul Message April 16, 7 pm and Greg Ward’s Rogue Parade and Knox Jazz Ensemble April 17. The Knox band will record their performance prior to the event. The time for the April 17 performance will be determined in April. Both events will be available on the Knox Youtube Channel. Even though Rootabaga and Jerome Mirza Residency Program are not the same this year, there is an advantage to going virtual. “By going virtual we are able to open up our performances to a lot more people. We now have an unlimited audience,” Crawford explained. Once we are past the Covid-19 pandemic and things have returned to normal, Crawford has a request for the Galesburg community, “Support live music whenever and however you can. Don’t take for granted what we have in this community. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to enjoy live music.”

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