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Diversity and Inclusion: Finding the Soul in Jazz Concert

Two members of New York based hip hop and spoken word collective Soul Inscribed will perform on campus with the JSU Jazz Ensemble on Sept. 19.

Finding the Soul in Jazz Concert

Jacksonville State invites the community to “Finding the Soul in Jazz” on Sept. 19, when guest musicians Sean Nowell and Baba Israel – core members of New York City based Soul Inscribed – will perform with the JSU Jazz Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. in Mason Hall, Room 351. The event is free and open to the public. 

“This is not your average jazz concert” said Dr. Andy Nevela, JSU’s director of jazz studies. “We are playing soul and rock-inspired arrangements with an edge – bridging a gap between jazz, rock and soul music. It’s going to be a wild ride.”

In fact, it will be the Jazz Ensemble’s first ever performance alongside a hip hop artist. New York native Baba Israel developed as a young artist by exploring spoken word, hip hop and experimental performance at venues throughout the city and has toured the world performing with artists such as Outkast, Philip Glass, Rahzel, Lester Bowie, KRS ONE and Vernon Reid. 

“Performing with a rapper is a first for the JSU Jazz Ensemble, and Baba is one of the best,” said Nevala. “We have brought into the recital hall the very music the kids are listening to through their AirPods, and this concert will make them active participants in a real, live, pedal to the metal concert they will never forget for the rest of their lives.”

Nevala said having JSU students perform with world-class musicians like Nowell and Israel is an amazing opportunity. The idea came about when he met Nowell a few years ago while performing together at an event at the Princess Theatre in Decatur, Ala. 

“I knew right away I needed to bring him to JSU to inspire our students and show them what is happening in the New York jazz and music scenes,” said Nevala. “Sean has performed all over the world, and our students need to perform with and be inspired by a musician who has made a career in New York and continues to be an innovative force in music.”

Originally from Dothan, Ala., Nowell is a 23-year veteran of the New York City freelance music scene, where he has played Broadway shows, composed and improvised film scores, and performed music for ballet and theatre. 

“Jazz Ensemble 1 is ready to go, and we had a great Zoom rehearsal with Sean Nowell last Wednesday,” said Nevala. “The kids are fired up and ready to play.” 

Members of the JSU Jazz Ensemble 1 include Isaiah Amos, Nathan Ballard, Josh Brown, Isaac Cargile, Riley Carroll, Omie Crockett, Colby Francis, Lamonte Gardner, David Glasgens, Jay Harris, Will Hiett, Joshua Huffman, Jonah Madaris, Kendall McCay, Calvin Norris, Garret Peterson, Graham Pierce, Kevin Portell, Alex Rodriguez, Aaron Rucker, Joshua Ruff, Logan Seales and Carson Walker. The ensemble is directed by Nevala. 

The concert is sponsored by an Arts in Education Grant from Alabama State Council on the Arts. 

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