And All that Jazz


A festival, which has hosted names like Ray Charles, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan and over 50 others, now holds a spot for the SDSU Jazz Ensemble.

Led by Nathan Jorgensen, assistant professor of woodwinds and jazz, 16 students and two professionals from Sioux Falls will take a journey across the Atlantic this summer to the Montreux Festival. This festival is the second-largest annual music festival in the world and is the best-known music festival in Switzerland and is highly renowned in Europe. The festival takes place every July along Lake Geneva. “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple tells the story of when the Montreux Casino, the original venue for the festival, burned down during a Frank Zappa performance.

“This gives our students an opportunity to be immersed into a foreign culture in a place where they don’t speak English, but understand music,” Jorgensen said.

The group will perform outside at Parc Vernex, which is free to everyone. Jorgensen described it as an outdoor pavilion similar to the Sylvan Green at SDSU, only larger. Larger named acts are indoors on a more-advanced stage, but those performances are not free.

The ensemble consists of students ranging from freshmen to seniors. Five saxophones, four trombones, three student trumpets, two professional trumpets, two drums, one bass and one piano make up the team.

Jorgensen contacted the festival and submitted recordings of the band. Shortly after, he received notification that the ensemble had been selected to play.

“I’m super excited about going to Germany and Switzerland,” said senior drummer Mike Roe. “This is actually the second time in my life that music has taken me overseas, so I am extremely thankful for the opportunity. I think I can speak for the whole jazz band and the entire music department when I say that I’m honored to represent the university at such a prestigious event.”

Jorgensen has been involved in the jazz scene since he was in his mid-teens. He says it has always been a part of his education and something he’s been interested in. He was given a Dave Brubeck record from his father and that’s where he found his spark.

The cost for each student to attend is $2,500, and $2,750 for chaperones. In order to defray the costs, the group has arranged various fund raisers. The first is a Valentine’s Day Dance. The dance will take place at Old Sanctuary on Feb. 14 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The price for students is $30 for couples and $15 for individuals. The Brookings All-Star Big Band will perform. The price includes admission and catering by Backyard Grill.

The music department also hosts regular concerts, which are free to students.

“If students come to our concerts they’ll hear a good mix of traditional jazz, rock, funk and all sorts of stuff that I think the musicians will enjoy performing and attendees will enjoy listening to,” Jorgensen said.

For more information, contact the Music Department at (605)688-5187.