UAA Jazz Ensemble to spread love of jazz with benefit concert

The first Jazz Benefit Concert of the year will be in swing on Oct. 24. A variety of talents from UAA students, faculty, alumni and community members are coming together to make the concert happen.

The Jazz Benefit Concert features performances by UAA faculty, students and alumni. Photo courtesy: Asia Bauzon
Photo courtesy: Asia Bauzon
Photo courtesy: Asia Bauzon

Proceeds from the concert will contribute to UAA’s Spring Jazz Festival in March of next year. The annual festival brings together the Jazz Ensemble and local high school and middle school jazz bands, as well as guest artists and workshops open to students and the community. This spring will be the 32nd anniversary of the event.

After 40 years of leading the Spring Jazz Festival and jazz program at UAA, Karen Strid-Chadwick, a former professor of music, retired last spring and passed the reins of all things jazz to John Sterling, an adjunct faculty member. Sterling says his experience teaching the ensemble so far has been great, and he is looking forward to the upcoming benefit concert and the other events to come.

“I am really excited about the Jazz Benefit Concert as it gives the UAA students, faculty and staff, as well as the broader Anchorage community an opportunity to see the exciting jazz music being played by the UAA music department,” Sterling said in an email. “This concert is a preview of what is to come during Jazz Week itself.”

Sterling began playing guitar at a young age and was introduced to jazz through a TV documentary. Since then, he has continued to experience the many benefits of jazz music and now passes that knowledge on to students.

“Music grounds my thought process and helps me think about how the world around me works and can be categorized,” he said. “The tonality of the sound and how to recreate that jazz vocabulary on my instrument keeps me working and engaged and always looking for that new sound.”

The group of musicians that makes up the Jazz Ensemble at UAA varies each year. This year, it includes percussion, synthesizer, voice, trumpet, bass, guitar and piano. The performers plan to present a wide range of songs at the concert from modern classics to funk to music from the swing era.

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Cameron Cartland, UAA alumni and percussionist, is one of the performers at the Jazz Benefit Concert. Cartland has been playing the drums since the age of 5 and is drawn to jazz music because of the freedom it allows.

“Jazz is about improvisation; it’s like a language. On one hand, it is a style of music and there’s typical things that happen in that genre… but at its fundamental level, it’s really about communication, and that is the thing I love the most about it,” Cartland said. “Even if you don’t speak the same language, you speak the language of jazz.”

Briana Glasionov, a music education major with an emphasis in voice, is also performing at the concert. She got into jazz music as a kid and started to pursue solo singing once in college.

“I’ve just always loved jazz music. I love how expressive it is; you have a lot of freedom to explore,” Glasionov said. “You can come up with a different idea every practice and the band is really great at listening to each other and feeding off the energy in the room.”

Glasionov has been a member of the Jazz Ensemble for three years now and hopes the audience at the concert will be able to share her love for the genre.

“I hope that they’re tapping their feet and having a good time. That’s what I think jazz is really all about: just getting people interested in listening,” she said. “It’s such an old art form that today. A lot of people don’t appreciate it as much. The benefit concerts are really to inspire people and show them that it’s fun to listen to and be involved in.”

The Jazz Benefit Concert will take place on Oct. 24 from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. in the recital hall of the Fine Arts Building, or room 150. Tickets are $19.99 for adults, $14.99 for seniors and military personnel and $9.99 for students, and can be purchased online at All proceeds will go towards the 2019 Spring Jazz Festival.