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Jazz artist Charles Lloyd performs on stage. Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Wray
Jazz artist Charles Lloyd performs on stage. Credit: Courtesy of Jennifer Wray

Wexner Center brings premier jazz artists to campus

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Ranging from the progressive classical and Latin-influenced pieces by Argentinian musician Guillermo Klein to Rudresh Mahanthappa’s acclaimed bebop-inspired works, the Wexner Center for the Arts will welcome an eclectic group of renowned jazz performers to campus this semester. Mark Lomax, a Columbus native, will also be featured in the upcoming series.

The Wexner Center’s jazz series seeks to represent progressive members of the jazz community who are making an impact on the scene, according to Charles Helm, director of performing arts at the Wex.

“We have had a jazz series from the beginning of the Wexner Center, now over 25 years,” Helm said.

The majority of the artists are hosted in the Wexner’s intimate black box performance space, holding 150-250 audience members.

“One of the key things is how we present jazz with what we call our jazz cabaret setup. It’s sort of a hybrid between a jazz club and a concert venue. It has an intimate feel,” Helm added.

The Wex strives to foster relationships between audience members and jazz artists, according to Helm.  A returning musician this season is Mahanthappa, winner of the Downbeat Magazine’s 2015 International Critics Poll Album of the Year with “Bird Calls.”

The black box performance space will also host larger instrumental groups, such as returning performer Klein’s 11-piece band. Klein’s last event at the Wex was a sold-out performance.

Helm added that students are encouraged to attend jazz shows and appreciate the genre in its intended live form. Discounted tickets for students are offered through the Wex’s website, the CAPA box office downtown and through D-Tix in the Ohio Union.

“I think it is a step out of the ordinary. Jazz really lends itself to live performance, so be open to the experience,” said Jennifer Wray, marketing and media assistant at the Wexner Center.

The first event this semester will be held at the newly renovated Lincoln Theater at 769 E. Long St., which was a historic jazz venue in the mid 20th century. Charles Lloyd and the Marvels kick off the series in this larger venue, featuring guitarist Bill Frisell, drummer Eric Harland and bassist Reuben Rogers on Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16.50 for students and $26.50 for the general public, and are available at the Wex Services Desk, Ticketmaster and at the venue the night of the show.

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