Smile Politely

Five questions with C-U Jazz Festival

The C-U Jazz Festival is entering into its eighth year this weekend, with a good amount of performances happening all around the area, and the event holds something for everyone. The festival kicks off today, Thursday, October 27th with a 5 p.m. performance from the Eric Binder Trio for Krannert Uncorked. Performances will carry on until Saturday evening, and the fest will come to a close on Sunday morning with a jazz brunch at Neil Street Blues. 

You can find a full list of events on the festival’s website, as well as keep up with them on Instagram (where they’re also hosting a guitar giveaway) and Facebook. All of the events are free, except for the jazz brunch. I asked the festival’s Artistic Director Jenelle Orcherton five questions about this year’s fest. 

Photo from C-U Jazz Festival’s Facebook page. 

Smile Politely: How long has the fest been going on for?

Jenelle Orcherton: This is the 8th annual event, it started in 2015.

SP: What kind of considerations go into planning a festival? How do you decide which acts to book?

Orcherton: I have lots of groups I would love to book so it is always a balancing act. How much budget do I have, what bands would I like to bring, what would be an interesting partnership, how does this fit into the overall lineup? Supporting local musicians and maybe lesser known groups is important, showcasing a wide array of kinds of jazz too. Plus it is an invigorator to the local scene too when we can bring in national acts as well.

SP: How many people work on putting the fest together? Is it all volunteer based?

Orcherton: Currently it is all volunteer based, yes! Throughout the year, there are one to two people that do the majority of the work, and then a couple more that come in the last week weeks too. We are small but mighty.

Photo of Dan Loomis from Dan Loomis’ Facebook page. 

SP: Which acts are you most excited for this year?

Orcherton: This is always the hardest question and I have different favorites for different things.Menjunje will be a fun party, I know Roy and his band and they always bring it. The Friday night Dan Loomis project is really unique (and has been a ton of work to put together), so I am excited to experience that — and really, to share that experience with everyone. And Mai Sugimoto has been on my wish list for several years now, so getting to host her for a two day collaboration is quite surreal. 

SP: What feelings or thoughts do you hope people walk away from the festival with?

Orcherton: This is a good one. I would love people to leave thinking, “wow that was better than I thought,” or maybe inspired to tell their friends about the group and find their music elsewhere too. Experiencing and sharing great concerts with others is such a unique and fleeting feeling, so I want people to have really felt something and connected with it. Maybe, they will dance along, have an experience, be moved, be challenged — whatever it is, to really make a memory.

Top photo from Krannert Center’s website. 

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