Jazz Tuesdays introduce genre to students, professors
Not many student musicians can say they’ve hung out with their professors in a local bar while playing their instrument of choice. MSU alumnus Cory Allen might be the exception.
During his time at MSU, Allen frequented Stober’s Bar, 812 E. Michigan Ave., along with his jazz studies professors for the weekly event Jazz Tuesdays. He said his favorite part of the weekly musical gathering was spending time with his jazz professors in an atmosphere well-removed from the classroom.
“(Professors) take the level of the music higher; you’re playing with real musicians,” Allen said. “Everyone brings their A-game; it goes from being really fun to becoming a learning experience.”
Jazz Tuesdays began about a year ago, when Stober’s Bar owners Michael Moriarty and Tim O’Rourke were approached by jazz studies graduate student Jeff Shoup, who was seeking an opportunity to perform regularly.
“Lansing isn’t really a hotbed for jazz music — at least, it wasn’t,” Shoup said. “I started looking for a place to play regularly. I’ve had similar gigs in the past, and from my experience, that regular weekly gig helps you to develop as a musician.”
Before Jazz Tuesdays, Moriarty said he found it difficult to interest customers with jazz.
“Jazz is always hard to do in Lansing, but it’s finally picking up,” Moriarty said.
Allen said he considers MSU a safe haven for jazz music. He said a university provides a space where jazz students can explore their interest in the genre while also introducing their friends to the music.
“You get one big group of college students who are studying it and introducing it to their friends, so by osmosis, people are picking it up,” Allen said.
Shoup said participating in, or at least attending, Jazz Tuesdays can provide insight to a classic aspect of American culture.
“Jazz is an important part of American culture, and you could make the argument that rock ‘n’ roll at least partly grew out of jazz,” Shoup said.
Once students give Jazz Tuesdays a try, Allen said many keep coming back for more.
“(Jazz Tuesdays are) a cool, special thing, and if people give it a shot, they might get hooked,” he said. “If you go out and listen with an open mind, it’s worth listening.”