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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

New York Sounds Come to Galesburg During 2024 Mirza Jazz Residency

The Orpheum Theatre reverberated with the sounds of New York jazz on Friday, January 19 as the Mirza Jazz Residency closed the book on its 11th year with exciting performances by the Gilad Hekselman Trio, the Cherry St. Combo, and the Knox Jazz Ensemble. These performances served as the culmination of a week filled with workshops, rehearsals, and jam sessions for Knox students, led by the talented members of the trio: Gilad Hekselman (guitar), Joe Martin (bass), and Joe Dyson (drums).

Knox students at Lombard Middle School

Andy Crawford ’00, managing director of music performance programs, orchestrated the residency and expressed his enthusiasm for the week despite facing challenges such as extreme weather conditions and canceled flights. Crawford commended students for exploring new musical avenues and embracing what Hekselman and his band brought to the College. 

“This residency pushes students to try things they never conceived of before,” Crawford said. “This is high-level, modern New York jazz. You don’t really get that anywhere else around here.”

“Knox has provided the warmest hospitality one could hope for,” Hekselman said. “The student spirit is really positive here. On one level or another, everyone was ready to listen and learn.” 

Knox students at Lombard Middle School

Despite sub-zero temperatures outside, a crowd of over 200 people attended the Friday night concert at the Orpheum Theatre. The Knox Jazz Ensemble opened the show with Hekselman leading the group on guitar alongside Justin Haynes, director of the Knox Jazz Ensemble. Following their performance, the Cherry St. Combo played a set once again featuring Hekselman, playing a pair of his original songs. 

Headlining the show, the Gilad Hekselman Trio delivered a dynamic set of Hekselman’s original compositions, featuring smooth bass riffs, fast-paced drum solos, and exhilarating guitar passages. The trio left the audience captivated with a one-of-a-kind performance.

“Seeing the Gilad Trio perform was the highlight of my week,” Morgan Hopkins ’24 said. “After spending some time with the band in rehearsals and at jazz night, and then getting to watch them shred on stage was inspiring. Gilad brought such a great atmosphere to his performance, and I was amazed with all of the talent on stage with the Trio.” 

Knox students at Lombard Middle School

Students involved in the residency highlighted the invaluable opportunity to learn directly from industry experts. From one-on-one lessons to group record listening sessions, Knox students were thrilled to participate in this annual event, fostering their growth as musicians.

“Motif is everything in jazz. How do you say what you are saying? Going into this week, I was expecting a lot of information about how to approach that and that is definitely what happened,” Brandon Roberts ’24 said. 

“I’ve learned a lot about practicing my instrument. As musicians, it can be easily overlooked.” Cyrus Tallman ’24 said. “Everything Gilad taught us was insightful. And it’s not just about music. It’s about things adjacent to music, the industry, and how to make a living. That’s extremely valuable to me.”

Knox students at Lombard Middle School

The 2024 Mirza Jazz Residency was made possible by the support from the Jerome Mirza Foundation of Bloomington, Illinois.

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Printed on Friday, February 23, 2024