News Article

Celebrating International Jazz Day with KCL Jazz Society

The Jazz Society at King's represents a huge community of people from all backgrounds who, in some way or another, love to be involved with jazz or live music in general. Whether they are seasoned jazz players who want to perform high-level gigs for us, players with little to no experience with jazz who are keen to get involved in playing it, or non-instrumentalist who simply love to listen to the live music we have to offer - which, for the large majority of the time, is completely free. We also make a point of welcoming players from outside of King's, especially those at other universities and colleges in London that perhaps don't have as thriving a jazz/live music scene as we offer. We are always accommodating and welcoming in that respect because we believe that playing with as wide a variety of people as possible is one of the best things you can do as a musician.  

Our flagship band is the "King's Big Band" that consists of 17 players here at King's. This is the only time we ever hold audition because it is a set number of players in the band, and the complexity of the music requires top-notch players. The Big Band has recorded two EPs, with the most recent being released last year, which we highly recommend people check out (it's called "US"). It features the Big Band playing in a wide variety of styles, including Funk or traditional Basie tunes. We have also been fortunate enough to run two balls with live music from the King's Big Band, as well as putting on an informal concert at Guy's Bar. Both the Valentine's Ball and The Roaring 20s were great successes, and while it was a challenge to accomodates our 17-piece band in Guy's Bar, it was one of the highlights of the year. The committee is always looking for new and exciting opportunities to involve people at King's in the live music scene.  

We also have a Jazz Orchestra, our biggest ensemble, which is open to anyone who feels they would like to have a taste for playing in a larger jazz ensemble - regardless of instrument or standard. The Jazz Orchestra has put on two fantastic concerts this year, one in the Great Hall and one at the Greenwood Theatre, both well-attended by people from King's and beyond. Similar to our Jazz Orchestra, we also run a Jazz Chorus. This, again, is a non-audition vocal group that meets weekly to rehearse a multitude of tunes ranging from traditional jazz choir repertoire to jazz arrangements of popular tunes put together by Julia Curry (KCL Jazz Soc vocal director) and Francesca Bern (KCL Jazz Soc assistant vocal director/social secretary). The Jazz choir have also put on two stellar performances this year and has collaborated with the Jazz Orchestra. 

Finally, our most dynamic project is called "Strand Sessions". This encompasses all of the live jam nights we hold fortnightly at The Vault on Monday nights, or the workshops that we put on focusing on specific elements of jazz and catering to different levels. The Vault jams tend to draw a large crowd on Monday nights from people keen to experience live music. Additionally, the jams provide a space for anyone to jump up and play any sort of jazz/funk they like. We are always encouraging of new players. Finally, the managers and coordinators of the Strand Sessions also oversee our band hire service. We are very fortunate that there is such a high demand for live jazz music at King's, whether that is for networking events, functions, or awards ceremonies, which keeps us busy. Having live jazz music underpinning an event like that really sets a nice tone and elevates the ambience considerably.

Overall, the Jazz Society at King's is not confined to people actively signed up as members, nor does it exclude those who are not. The virtue of jazz music as a form of live entertainment means we are tightly woven into the tapestry and experience of King's College London. Our membership is free, we don't charge anything to be involved in our ensembles, and the majority of our gigs are free to attend, all in an effort to make live music, and jazz in particular, as accessible to a wide range of people as possible - that is the essential goal of the KCL Jazz Society.




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