NEWS (from left: Dylan Walter, Ellen Jacobson, Ethan Ni, Liam Keaney, Matt Padula

‘Kinetic Five’ Jazz Ensemble Represents UMass at National Education Conference

Students from the UMass Amherst Jazz and African American Music Studies (JAAMS) program were recently given the honor of performing at the Jazz Education Network’s national conference, which took place Jan. 4-7 in Orlando, Florida. The annual conference brings together jazz educators, musicians, exhibitors, and students from middle school to college for four days of clinics, performances, demonstrations and lectures.

A highlight of each year’s conference schedule is the JENerations Jazz Festival, which features performances by students from the country’s top school and community ensembles. Representing UMass and the Department of Music and Dance at this year’s Festival was the “Kinetic Five” jazz combo, which includes Matt Padula (tenor saxophone), Ethan Ni (alto saxophone), Dylan Walter (piano), Liam Keaney (bass), and Ellen Jacobson (drums). Their four-song set included three original works by Kinetic Five members – Walter’s “Moonrise,” Padula’s “Special Side of Green,” and Keaney and Walter’s “Is Winter Too Much to Ask?” The group, which is comprised of graduate and undergraduate students who major in and outside the JAAMS program, also recently played at the Vermont Jazz Center's Emerging Artists weekend in November 2022.

Kinetic Five in front of the Bromery Center for the Arts"We are excited to once again have our students be a part of this international annual conference, the highest profile jazz educator gathering of its kind held here in the United States," said JAAMS Director Jeffrey W. Holmes.

Prior student ensemble appearances at JEN conferences have included the UMass Studio Orchestra with vocalist Sheila Jordan, the UMass Chamber Jazz Nonet, and Young Composer Showcase student writing winners Lucas Aposteleris and Brian Martin. JAAMS faculty have also given presentations or collaborative performances at past JEN conferences, including those by Holmes, Felipe Salles, Catherine Jensen-Hole, Tom Giampietro and Fumi Tomita.