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Arts & Culture

Jazzing Up Greater College Park

The Clarice to Host Monthly Musical Jam at The Hall CP

By Sala Levin ’10

man playing saxophone

Saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed is the leader of the house band at the Jazz Jam, a new monthly series that kicks off tonight at The Hall CP. Musicians of all abilities—and music lovers—are invited to join the gatherings to enjoy improvisational jazz.

Photo by Nick Moreland Photography

Starting tonight, The Hall CP is about to get a lot more hep.

A new monthly series called Jazz Jam launches this evening, inviting students, faculty, staff, College Park residents and anyone with an ear for musical improvisation to bring their instrument–or just their appreciation for the genre–to The Hall CP to find their groove.

“A really important part of the jazz community is the opportunity for people to come out and try their skills, hear other people playing and talk to musicians at different stages of their careers,” said Austin Sposato, artistic planning coordinator for music at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. “We’re excited to host (a jam) in College Park.”

The Hall CP exterior
The Hall CP (Photo by Emma Howells)

The last Wednesday of each month, saxophonist Elijah Jamal Balbed will lead the house band for an hour-long set. Then, starting at 8:30 p.m., “everyone else can join in,” said Sposato. Musicians visiting for performances at The Clarice may also participate; tonight, trumpeter Brandon Woody will take part before bringing his band, UPENDO, to the Kogod Theatre tomorrow night.

Sposato was inspired to start the jam sessions by similar events during his time as a college student at the University of Akron. “There was a really strong jazz scene in Akron, and there was a jam that everyone would go out to every single week on a Wednesday night,” he said.

The gatherings weren’t just essential for community-building, Sposato said, but also taught students the unofficial rules of life as a working musician. Knowing when to take a solo and when to stay in the background, perfecting jazz standards and networking with other musicians all made the meet-ups “on-the-job training,” he said.

The Hall CP, the restaurant and event venue behind The Hotel in Greater College Park's Discovery District, offered the ideal location for hosting the jams, said Sposato. “The Hall was set up to be a music and event space, but they opened right around the beginning of the pandemic,” he said. Now, musicians will get the chance to take advantage of the venue’s indoor and outdoor spaces.

“It’s just a really joyful, beautiful space,” said Sposato.

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