This year’s Rootabaga Jazz Festival, held April 10 through 12, introduced students to jazz music and offered a good time. This year’s acts featured more traditional styling’s than in years past.
Post-baccalaureate fellow Nate Beck ’12 performed at this year’s event with the Cherry St. Combo after performing with the Big Band last year.
Beck described Rootabaga as an event that provides a special opportunity for music alumni to come back to Galesburg and take part in a nostalgic experience.
“Rootabaga is like jazz homecoming. Take the best social aspects of the jazz program combined with a general love of music and you have three days of beautiful music and people all coming together because they all love it,” Beck said.
A feature unique to Rootabaga is its scale. Held at McGillicuddy’s, a venue familiar to the entirety of the Knox network, there is a connection between the performers and audience unlike other concerts.
“It’s incomparable to many other jazz festivals because of this intimacy that everyone shares. It ranks top on my list of yearly events for this very reason,” Beck said.
Whereas Beck is a seasoned veteran of Rootabaga, every year many students encounter the event for the first time.
Junior Orestes Duran is a Rootabaga newcomer, attending this year’s event after having missed it his previous two years on campus.
“I heard great things about it the last two years so this year I decided to attend with some friends, and the campus promoted it really well,” Duran said.
He didn’t know what to expect, but said that he approached the festival with an open mind.
“I really didn’t have any expectations because I’m not a big jazz person but I do enjoy good music and a good time,” Beck said.
Duran also said he enjoyed his first encounter with Rootabaga particularly the Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble (CALJE).
“I enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed the Latin jazz. It was definitely interesting. It’s made me want to get into more jazz. It broadened my musical interest… I will definitely try to get as many friends to go with me next year because I had such a great time there,” Duran said.
Beck also enjoyed what CALJE brought to the festival.
“My favorite artist was CALJE. They had some really great arrangements, and the rhythm section was on point,” Beck said.
This year was different in that Rootabaga veered away from the alternative jazz genres present in previous years.
“It was also different because we brought many straight ahead artists, meaning that they tend to play with traditional tendencies as opposed to the fusion funk aspect we have been getting in past years,” Beck said.
Beck says that the festival was successful this year and that it held a special meaning for the Cherry Street Combo.
“This one was fantastic. I got to see many jazz alums that I had developed a better relationship with over the course of the year, so paling around with them for 3 days was a blast. This one was also particularly special because the Cherry Street Combo released our album “A Dedication.” That’s something that I can look back upon and be fond of,” Beck said.
Post-baccalaureate Nate Beck ‘12 plays with the Cherry Street Combo Thursday, April 10 at McGillacuddy’s.