By: Hilary Tsui, SFU Student and SFU Jazz Band member
The SFU Jazz Band is made up of jazz enthusiasts (or “band nerds”) and provides students with an opportunity to socialize, play jazz, and share memes, among other things. Though the actual date is unknown, members believe the club was formed in the 1970’s — far before any of its current members were born.
In an interview with The Peak, SFU Jazz Band president Niko Kulka said, “Often, our members played jazz in high school, realized they enjoyed that very much, and want to keep that up in post-secondary.”
Anyone is welcome to join the band, regardless of instrument and skill level. This year, the club boasts a number of flautists, clarinetists, trumpeters, trombonists, saxophonists, guitarists, pianists, and drummers.
Additionally, people from any faculty are welcome as well, and the 2021–22 executive team is a great example of this. There are students of all years studying in the faculties of arts and social sciences; applied sciences, communication, art, and technology, and science.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic preventing the band from gathering together and rehearsing, the club has still been active over the past one and a half years. While COVID-19 limited their activities, the executive team was able to organize socials online and in-person, with their last social being an in-person Super Smash Bros. tournament. Niko is cautiously optimistic about being able to rehearse in the Spring semester, however, he recognizes the risk this can bring. “Our priority will always be safety,” he said.
At the end of a typical, non-remote semester, the SFU Jazz Band generally holds a jazz night in collaboration SFU Vocal Jazz, where they perform the pieces they learned over the semester to family, friends, and faculty. Previously, the SFU Jazz Band has also played at SFU and community events. These include faculty Christmas events, SFU’s Balding for Dollars fundraiser, SFU’s Terry Fox Run fundraiser, United Way book sales, and the former Club Ilia.
Pre-pandemic, rehearsals were held in the Forum Chambers in the Maggie Benston Centre on Mondays from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Members paid $10 a semester to help keep the band running, with dues going to instrument maintenance, rentals, and music score purchases. While much of their time was spent playing jazz, these rehearsals held a lot more significance than being simply a band.
“I was a scared and lonely freshman,” vice-president Efe Erhan said. “The jazz band provided [ . . . ] new friends, a weekly activity that got me out of the house, and an opportunity to keep playing music.”
Jordan Ehrenholz, a former rehearsal leader, looked back at the jazz band with fondness. “The Jazz Band was always a fun way to spend Monday nights for me. I always enjoyed and jumped on the opportunity to take saxophone solos and work on my confidence and improvisation,” he said.
He also loved learning about and playing different music genres. Being in the Jazz Band not only helped Jordan learn how to be expressive and be a better saxophonist; he left with a newfound knowledge of music band management. “I learned how to start and manage bands big and small in the SFU Jazz Band, a skill set which I use today and will continue to use in the future.”
For Tony, it was “the opportunities it gave [him] to meet so many different people.” Former Jazz Band librarian Dylan Dodd shared a similar sentiment and said, “For me, it’s not the club that matters so much as the diverse group of people in it.”
Whether or not the club will be able to rehearse this semester, the executive team aims to host at least one social/event. A movie night featuring La La Land is in the works so be sure to check out the SFU Jazz Band’s social media for updates. Additionally, general club socials are not the only thing happening this semester.
For more information about the SFU Jazz Band and how to join, you can contact them on Instagram at @sfu_jazz or by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.