Mr. Chair brings genre fusion to Rose Bowl Tavern


Photo courtesy of Anya Kubilus

Mr. Chair, a genre fusion quartet of jazz and rock, begins their spring tour at Rose Bowl Tavern, located on Race Street, on Sunday.

By Sydney Wood, buzz Editor

On March 13, Mr. Chair, a genre fusion band, will kick off its spring tour at the Rose Bowl Tavern in Urbana.

Mr. Chair is a quartet from Madison, Wisconsin, that was founded in 2016. The classically trained musicians have an affinity for jazz and progressive rock music, priding themselves on their unique blend of various genres.

“It’s freely improvised,” said Jason Kutz, the pianist/keyboardist of Mr. Chair. “It kind of moves through composed music and improvisation seamlessly, so a lot of the original music that we do is exactly that.”

Mr. Chair is composed of Kutz, bassist Ben Ferris, trombonist Mark Hetzler and percussionist/drummer Mike Koszewski. The group regularly collaborates with other musicians, including guitarist José Guzmán, who graduated from the University in 2020. 

“This is kind of how it goes,” Kutz said. “We have this main quartet, and then we like to really invite other people to showcase themselves and what they do with the vehicle of Mr. Chair, and it gives us a chance to try other things.”

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Mr. Chair’s show in Urbana will be their first time playing at the Rose Bowl Tavern. The gig is also the band’s first stop on its spring tour.  

 Kutz said he hopes that Mr. Chair’s music will bring joy, hope and excitement to Champaign-Urbana. He said he’s eager to play at the Rose Bowl Tavern and showcase the band’s versatile sound. 

“We’re toeing the line between a band that works well at a bar and really concert music,” he said. “I think we’re best fit for listening rooms when people want to focus on the music.”

Mr. Chair’s music is meant to bring light into the world and make people “think about things and themselves” and the world, Kutz said, saying he hopes the group’s music “transport(s) them for a minute to somewhere that maybe they haven’t been or that they have been.”

“We might write tunes that have meaning to us, but when someone listens to it, it’s completely individual,” Kutz said. 

He said music lets listeners think about what they are hearing without explicitly telling them how to interpret songs. 

“What is amazing about music is that it’s just sound in the air, and however they (listeners) want to interpret that, or wherever they are taken, whatever memory pops up, or however they might be inspired or be thinking about, that is completely valid,” Kutz said. “And that is what is amazing about music.”

Mr. Chair will also play some of its new tunes from its upcoming album, “Better Days,” at the Rose Bowl on Sunday. The album will be released in late spring or early summer. 

Kutz said some themes in “Better Days” are hope, companionship, family and introspection. 

“A lot of the music was written during the pandemic,” he said, “so there’s a lot of focus on images and feelings that we were feeling. And then there’s a lot of loss, so there’s a couple tunes in there that are focused on familial loss.” 

After Urbana, Mr. Chair will continue its week-long spring tour, heading to Nashville, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; Gainesville, Florida; Tampa, Florida; and Winter Park, Florida. Kutz said the band hopes to do another tour in the summer. 

“Without trying to sound too full of myself,” Kutz said, “I am pretty confident that you’ve never really heard music like this. I think we have a really original sound, and it’s something that we’re constantly honing.”


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