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Source: Mathew Schumer

By: Mathew Schumer

On Friday, Sept. 27,  the Office of the Dean of Students presented the first show of this year’s “The Best Darn Jazz Club in Danbury” series. The show, held in the Colonial Corner in the Midtown Student Center, was free to members of the university staff and student body as well as local residents and alumni looking to see what Western Connecticut State University’s Jazz Studies program has to offer.

The Rachel Merriam Quartet opened the show with a set of mostly traditional jazz to set the tone for the evening, playing a total of six tunes that included renditions of compositions by the likes of legendary artists like Herbie Hancock and Dexter Gordon. As the group’s namesake, Rachel Merriam stood out as the lead guitarist. She was joined by Nick Morcaldi on drums, Victor Ramirez on upright bass, and Malin Carta on alto saxophone.

During a short intermission between sets, Dean of Students Walter Cramer addressed the crowd, thanking them for their attendance and support throughout the past two years of the program. “We’ve been doing this now for three years. We love to see both students and members of the general public coming to enjoy the club,” said Cramer.

After the intermission, The Joanna Collins Quartet took the stage, their set offering a blend of classic and contemporary soul to close out the night. Among the setlist were reworkings of soul tunes by artists ranging from Donny Hathaway to Amy Whinehouse, alongside various jazz standards and classics. Vocalist Eden Wright entertained not only with her euphonious vocal performances, but also with her intermittent commentary about the personal significance of a few songs, bringing a great deal of personality to the set. On the instrumental front, Joanna Collins presided over the keys; accompanying her on the drums and bass were Nick Morcaldi and Victor Ramirez, who also performed during the first set.

The Best Jazz Darn Club in Danbury is as much an entertaining way to spend a Friday evening as it is an engaging way to experience some of the best of what WCSU’s Jazz Studies program has to offer. Luckily for university-goers and community members alike who missed out on the most recent show, WCSU has partnered with the Danbury Railway Museum, which will hold the club’s next performance on October 18th. For more details, head over to the club’s Facebook page.