The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

CU Jazz Festival connects community, local artists through jazz brunch

Anne Schmidt
The audience enjoying the Jose Gobbo Duo with Maxwell Beckman performing during a Jazz Brunch on Sunday for the CU Jazz Fest 2023. This event took place at Seven Saints in Downtown Champaign.

The CU Jazz Festival celebrated community and jazz music by hosting a jazz brunch on Sunday. 

The brunch was held in a secluded area of Seven Saints restaurant in downtown Champaign from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Jenelle Orcherton, artistic director of the festival, organized the ninth annual CU Jazz Fest, including the Sunday morning jazz brunch. She said her intent was to connect the community to local musicians. 

“It’s part of an ongoing process to invigorate the jazz community, connect students and the community to the jazz musicians we have in town, and also bring in some exciting stuff,” Orcherton said. 

Alicia Trezise, a University alum, emphasized the importance of events like the jazz brunch on the community as well as an individual.

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“It’s just super important,” Trezise said. “It’s great to build some community. It’s great to get out of your rhythm, but it’s also so important to be present and listen to local artists and support local talent.”

The space held seven tables as well as bar seating. Halloween decorations, like cobwebs on the chandeliers and orange and purple lighting, added to the festive atmosphere. 

“It’s a fun way to start your Sunday,” Orcherton said. “It’s nice and relaxed, good to have sort of an intimate experience.” 

The duo of guitarist Jose Gobbo and and bassist Max Beckman performed while people ate, chatted and listened to the music.

They played for almost the entire two hours of the event, only taking a 10-minute break at noon. 

For the most part, the duo played traditional jazz, but their set also included parts of songs by the Beatles as well as Katy Perry.

“When it’s trio or duo, I like to follow him,” Beckman said. “I call it ‘Follow the Madman’ because sometimes it will allow the freedom to go.” 

Naana Amonoo-Neizer, graduate student studying quantitative and qualitative methodology, measurement and evaluation, said that the music at the jazz brunch was more upbeat than the festival’s opening night.

In addition to the music, Seven Saints also provided food at the brunch. Audience members were able to choose three items out of a predetermined list of sandwiches, soups, salads, sides and sliders. There was also a choice between coffee, tea and a spiced apple cocktail.

Despite the variety of options, some audience members were disappointed by the type of food offered.

“Since it was a brunch, I was hoping there would be more breakfasty things, to be honest, but I love the tomato soup and the sweet potato fries,” Trezise said. “So I was happy.”

Amonoo-Neizer expressed similar feelings towards the food selection.

“It was advertised as a brunch,” Neizer said. “So we were kind of expecting to have some breakfast items on the menu.”

The sentiment that the jazz brunch allowed the Champaign-Urbana community to connect and discover local talent was shared by Beckman.

“Everyone was very attentive, there was a lot of people tuning in and got some eye contact and some vibes and it was just a positive community it seems like in Champaign,” Beckman said. 


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