The vibrant sound of smooth saxophone beats would have filled the air each Tuesday in June as crowds gathered to listen to live jazz at Jazz in June, but with crowd gatherings becoming less viable during these times of social distancing, the concert series isn’t having a physical crowd in 2020. However, the show must go on — Jazz in June has made the transition to online streaming, providing jazz musicians in Nebraska the chance to have their music heard live.
On Tuesday, Andrew Janak Trio will take the stage for Jazz in June’s third livestreamed concert on YouTube and Facebook Live. This trio includes saxophonist and University of Nebraska-Lincoln alum Andrew Janak, organist Mitch Towne and David Hawkins on the drums. Previously performing weekly at Jambo Cat and The Jewell in Omaha, the band has played together for the last three years.
Janak, who graduated from UNL with a bachelor’s degree in music education, has performed with the UNL Wind Ensemble, the Lincoln and Omaha symphonies and many other groups. His experience led him to perform with acts like The Temptations and Aloe Blacc.
The formation of the group began when Janak connected with Towne after hiring him for a gig. A few years later, Janak was looking to form a group, and Towne was one of the first people he called. They eventually connected with Hawkins through word-of-mouth from fellow acquaintances about a young talented drummer.
“Through mutual acquaintances and friends on the jazz scene here in Nebraska, we all kind of found each other and [the music] really clicked as a group,” Janak said.
After recording a solo album himself, Janak’s goal with the group is to produce an album with them. He said being a part of the group has allowed him to write a lot more music, some of which will be played for the first time during Tuesday’s concert.
Many concert venues and artists have had to adjust to switching to an online format after the coronavirus prevented large gatherings. Janak said he welcomes the challenge of playing without an electrified crowd cheering them on, understanding the necessity of performing online.
“At the end of the day, it's going to be really great to play music with other people,” Janak said. “I think for right now [livestreamed concerts are] probably the best way you can reach a decently sized audience.”
Hawkins said he hopes Jazz in June’s online livestream will provide accessibility to live jazz and reach people who haven’t been exposed to the stylings of the genre.
“A lot of people that I know that don’t listen to jazz, it’s not because they don’t like jazz, it’s because to a lot of people jazz is a really corny thing or a really unattainable thing that you have to have a certain understanding to get into,” Dawkins said. “There is definitely a middle ground there that people don’t realize but people aren’t put into the position to figure that out.”