Westport residents jam out at Jazz Jam Anna Rhoads '19 & Kayla sirlin '19

With each new song that began, audience members tapped their feet and clapped along to the lively beat. Musicians poured their hearts into every chord or key, their pure love for the genre undeniably evident. Diverse people from around town gathered together with one connection, one passion: Jazz.

The annual Jazz Jam, hosted by the Westport Arts Center, is the ideal time of year for Jazz lovers all around Westport to gather and honor this particular genre of music.

The Westport Arts Center has been hosting the jazz jam for 6 years

“The Jazz Jam offers students, semi-pros and professionals an opportunity to come together in a free-wheeling jam session that is always fun. It provides a sense of community in music and we look forward to it every year,” Brian Torff, the Jazz Artistic Director for the Westport Arts Center said.

The event dates back to 2011 when Dr. Arthur Ashman saw a lack of jazz being celebrated in town. Ashman wanted to “create an opportunity for local musicians to jam with professionals and students from area high schools and colleges,” according to the Westport Arts Center.

Students in high school and college were encouraged to join in with the musicians

Ashman’s idea proved right. Many staples students see the importance of opportunities like this, including Rebecca Webster ’19.

“Having the opportunity to play, listen to, and study jazz is important because it encompasses every skill that musicians need in order to play other types of music. Jazz teaches improvisation, communication, feel, and timing.”

While opportunities outside of school are still important, Ellie Klein ’19 stressed the importance of jazz on a more local level within the setting of Staples. “It's important that jazz music lives on because jazz music represents progressiveness. When jazz music was first starting it was really different for the time,” Klein said.

The genre still stands out from the rest, according to Klein. “There are infinite ways any jazz song can be played. Unlike classical music, a lot of improvisation is involved and the music can be played and interpreted in any way.”

This uniqueness is part of what made the Jazz Jam so successful. After a successful, jazz-filled afternoon, attendees left the Westport Arts Center with smiles, excitement for next year’s festival, and tunes stuck in their heads.

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