Adam Meckler (Visual and Performing Arts), Michigan Tech’s director of Jazz Studies, and his students in three Michigan Tech jazz ensembles refused to let the quarantine stop the music.
Meckler’s students, from wherever the quarantine found them, teamed up via shared videos to undertake an experiment to blend music and dance, with similarly home-bound dance students at State University of New York-Brockport, for a one-of-a-kind dance and music collaboration.
That collaboration has allowed a hybrid event of sorts to take shape as the final product of their experimentation. A livestreamed concert, “MTU Jazz: Quarantined,” will take place on the Rozsa Center’s official Facebook page at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 13.
Meckler said the idea of a jazz/dance collaboration began to take shape when he and Greg Woodsbie, lead professional staff accompanist and music instructor at SUNY-Brockport, were undergraduates at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, nearly 20 years ago.
The ensembles involved in the online concert are the Workshop Big Band, R&D Big Band and Jazz Lab Band. Calling it a first-of-a-kind event at Michigan Tech, Meckler said the concert grew out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Michigan Tech was on spring break when the order came to stay at home and stay safe. It was at that moment that Jazz students at MTU knew that they’d have to get creative in order to continue to make music together,” he said. “Each of our three big bands decided to remotely record and video one song that we had been working on during the spring semester. Additionally, 11 members of MTU’s Jazz program teamed up with 11 dance students at SUNY-Brockport and collaborated on making music and dance videos.” (View one of the videos).
Students created music for these videos in a variety of ways, including solo improvisations, multilayered songs and electronic music. The results of these collaborations will be premiered during the “MTU Jazz: Quarantined” concert, along with each big band’s final recording/video project.
Meckler will present these videos live from the Rozsa Facebook Page, and will also be available for a live Q&A session during a short intermission.