A very happy jazz performance

Faculty and guest artist ensemble Christopher’s Very Happy. Band. performed a concert in Russell Hall on Friday, Jan. 24.

SOFIA LEGASPI, Campus Life Editor | [email protected]

Christopher’s Very Happy. Band. (CVH.B.) performed a concert on Friday evening, Jan. 24 in Russell Hall’s Bengtson Auditorium. The performance featured jazz compositions from their second album, “While We Wait.”

“Let’s face it,” reads the band’s “About” blurb on their Facebook page. “Jazz has the reputation of being stuffy, impenetrable music that you have to know something to ‘get.’ A bad inside joke, like the Elks lodge. The worst part of hipsterdom. Old, balding guys wearing sunglasses inside. AT NIGHT. Well, we hope to change your opinion about all of that.

“The jubilant sound of Christopher’s Very Happy. Band. results from a combination of bright sounding compositions played with joyous abandon by its four members.”

The group includes faculty artists Christopher Merz on saxophone and Mike Conrad on piano, as well as guest artists Drew Morton on bass and Dave Tiede on drums.

Conrad studied under Merz as an undergraduate student at UNI. Upon Conrad’s return to the area — first as the head band director at Waterloo West High School, and then as a faculty member with the UNI School of Music — Merz approached him about joining a new quartet. Conrad said agreeing was a “no-brainer.”

“I am constantly inspired by my colleagues in the UNI School of Music,” Conrad said. “It’s such an amazing team of musicians, teachers and scholars. It is always a challenge to balance the many things that we as professors need to do, but working with someone like Chris Merz helps me push myself to keep my skills as a performer in good shape. His music is engaging and enjoyable to play. The music itself inspires me to find different ways of expressing my ideas as an improviser, and the musicians in the quartet further inspire me with the way that they bring their unique musical personalities into the performances.”

Friday’s concert also included senior music education major Dakota Anderson and UNI percussion instructor Matthew Andreini performing settings of Walt Whitman texts by Merz and Conrad.

According to Conrad, the group generally plays between 10 and 15 performances sporadically throughout the year.

“Despite the irregularity of our gig schedule, each time we get together to play it’s comfortable and fun,” he said. “All four of us know each other well as people and musicians and have good musical chemistry.”

CVH.B. will be performing at the Octopus on College Hill on Thursday, Feb. 20 at 10 p.m.