North Texas Daily

Jazz student heats it up

Jazz student heats it up

Jazz student heats it up
April 26
13:12 2013

H. Drew Blackburn 

Students at UNT are no strangers to the prowess and prestige of the university’s jazz program, whether academically or recreationally, they have proven a force to be reckoned with.

This weekend, three days will be dedicated to Jazz for the 33rd annual Denton Arts and Jazz Festival located at Denton’s Quakertown Park and Facilities, 321 E. McKinney St.

The festival will have arts and crafts, food, games and information, and fine arts as well as more than 2,700 musicians participating.

Kevin Lechler, assistant director of the Denton Festival Foundation, said that they prepare for the festival up to 18 months in advance.

“The Denton Jazz and Arts Festival is the city’s signature event,” Lechler said. “It is a community event in every sense. The community comes together to put on the event for the community.”

Jazz studies senior Ronan Delisle will grace the stage three times during the two-and-a-half day festival that attracts more than 200,000 music lovers annually.

Ronan Delisle 

Delisle was born in Dublin, Ireland, and lived in France for six years before he and his family settled in a Seattle, Wash., suburb called Redmond – the home of Microsoft, where his father worked as a translator.

Three years ago, Ronan Delisle came to UNT to study music.

Delisle’s piano teacher back home pushed him to apply.

“This seemed like the most logical fit,” Delisle said. “Even though I didn’t know much about the place when I came here, eventually I became really familiar with it and I feel at home here.”

At 12 years old, Delisle started playing guitar, citing early influences such as Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa and The Mars Volta.

“I didn’t really start jazz until I was 16 or 17,” Delisle said. “I did some summer camps and started figuring out what I wanted to do with guitar.”

Outside of performing jazz music, Delisle is in a rock band called Senor Fin, which played a set at 35Denton on March 7 at Sweetwater Grill and Tavern.

When comparing 35Denton and the Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, Delisle said Denton Arts and Jazz is more family oriented.

“That makes it sound lame, but it’s not,” Delisle said. “35 to me is more of the do-it-yourself rock kind of indie scene, and arts and jazz is UNT and the programs that UNT has. They get people that aren’t affiliated, but UNT has a big part to do with arts and jazz.”

The Ronan Delisle Jazz Small Group

At last year’s Arts and Jazz Festival, Delisle played with the UNT Zebras, a jazz-fusion ensemble.

This weekend, however, Delisle will play with the UNT Three O’Clock Lab Band, his band The Ronan Delisle Jazz Small Group and The Jimin Lee Group led by Jimin Lee, a master’s student in the jazz program.

His namesake act, The Ronan Delisle Small Jazz Group, will play at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

“It’s kind of like an informal gathering of people,” Delisle said. “On paper it’s my band, but we all contribute equally.”

Jazz studies senior Damian Garcia, junior Jacob Greenburg, junior Alex Hahn and senior Nolan Byrd are also artists in the ensemble. Delisle said originally began as a class project. Later, their professor Stefan Karlsson asked them to perform at the festival.

“We decided that we were going to be in a group this semester, and then we decided that it would be all original tunes,” Hahn said. “Each member of the group wrote an original song of theirs.”

Allowing each member to write their own song gave them freedom to touch on a wide range of genres. Hahn said that their styles range from funk to up-tempo.

“Each song is kind of a different style,” Hahn said. “It’s all different music, which is good.”

UNT at The Denton Arts and Jazz Festival

The Denton Arts and Jazz Festival will have seven stages and roughly 190 acts throughout the weekend, 29 of which are on the UNT Stage. Nine of the ensembles are UNT’s own famous lab bands that perform big band jazz, a style which features a large group of musicians who play jazz that is generally more upbeat and incorporates improvised solos.

Delisle is performing with the Three O’Clock Lab Band, one of the nine prestigious UNT ensembles. Brad Leali has directed the Three O’Clock Lab Band for six years and received his Bachelor of Arts at UNT in 1989.

He has also played at the Denton Arts and Jazz fest during his undergraduate career as a member of the  grammy-nominated One O’Clock Lab Band himself, and is dedicated to jazz because of the genre’s improvisational nature.

“You can be creative. You can speak your own voice, and you can create the music that you can hear in your head,” Leali said. “Jazz musicians are composers and they compose on the spot.”

Having performed at the festival before, Leali said it has grown considerably. He attributes its success to more people simply knowing about it.

“When you start something in its infancy, sometimes you deal with a smaller audience,” Leali said. “As the tradition grows you start to bring more artists in and it naturally grows, if the music presentation is quality.”

Leali said the Arts and Jazz festival also helps put the jazz program at UNT in the public eye.

“If we’re more visible, then younger students and younger lovers of jazz will see our program and be interested in it,” Leali said.

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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