Latin jazz band plays in Union for Family Day


To kick off Family Day celebrations, the Kansas State Latin jazz band played music and served treats to fellow K-State students and their families in the Student Union on Saturday.

Due to inclement weather, the Latin jazz band was moved from Bosco Plaza to the courtyard on the ground floor of the Union.

Students and their families came into the Union to take shelter from the rain and listen to some jazz. Visitors had a plethora of candy to choose from including cotton candy, lollipops, a make-your-own Pixy Stix station and more.

Early on during the performance, a couple took to the center of the courtyard and started dancing. Their dancing prompted other visitors to walk out onto the floor to dance and mingle with others.

Annabelle Dillon, sophomore in microbiology, and her sister Meghan Dillon, a student at Mill Valley High School, came to see the band because of an advertisement they saw online.

“I saw an ad on Facebook, then we looked it up after that,” Annabelle Dillon said. “I was excited by the cotton candy — it’s all purple, which makes things fun.”

The girls were attracted to the event because they both like jazz music. After looking up more information on the K-State website, they decided to come. They sat in seats overlooking the entire band and danced in their seats to the music. Both Annabelle and Meghan Dillon snacked on their candy and talked about how cheerful and festive they felt because of the music.

Kurt Gartner, professor in the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, is the leader of the Latin jazz band. Gartner said the band has been together since the early 2000s. Students in the band enjoy playing in it because of its relaxed nature and freedom to experiment with music and how it’s performed.

Alex Wakim, senior in music composition, is on his third year in the Latin jazz band. Wakim plays piano and said he likes doing so because the instrument lets him have a full range over control and harmony. He likes that the piano can also be used as a percussion instrument without the unpitched sounds that a normal percussionist would have.

“I really enjoy this because it helps my rhythm and time,” Wakim said.

Presley Rodecap, senior in music composition, plays the alto saxophone. He decided to join the Latin jazz band because of its laid-back nature.

“The alto sax gets a large variety of literature,” Rodecap said. “I can play some Latin jazz or some really strange contemporary pieces.”

Rodecap said this is one of his favorite ensembles to play in because it is all about reading charts and playing music by ear. That also entails using eye contact and visual cues to decide where the music composition should go next. Playing music this way creates a unique and spontaneous dynamic that the band enjoys toying with.

If you would like to hear more of their music, the Latin jazz band is having a special Halloween concert. Their “Combos Concert” will be held on Oct. 31 at 7:30 p.m. in the Union.