Albion Jazz Collective Returns to the Stage

Washington Gardner has long been the place where Albion events, including the annual Big Show, Greek Life's Mock Rock and other events have been held. Though Albion's Jazz Collective will not be performing here, they will soon be returning to the stage after a hiatus brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic (Photo by Jordan Revenaugh).

The Albion Jazz Ensemble, also known as the “Jazz Collective,” has been performing on campus and in the community of Albion for more than 50 years. 

Like many others, the Jazz Ensemble experienced disappointment during 2020 with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, performance dates were cancelled in both the Spring and Fall terms. 

The ensemble typically performs 12 concerts every school year, including off-campus endeavors for “Blues at the Bohm” and “Jazz at Relli’s.” Despite not being able to perform, the ensemble’s musicians have continued to refine their technique and skills independently throughout the pandemic thus far.

According to Samuel McIlhagga, the ensemble’s current director, the best part about the concerts was the audience participation.

“In a regular music concert, the audience only claps at the end of the song,” said McIlhaga. “There’s no room for improvised solos in other genres. But in Jazz, there’s an opportunity for the musicians to express themselves and for the audience to do that as well by clapping at the end of a section they might like.”

Fortunately for Albion’s Jazz Collective, the group doesn’t have to wait too much longer to return to the stage. 

The Jazz Ensemble has two performances scheduled on campus for spring 2021, The concerts will take place at Goodrich Chapel on March 5 and again on April 28, both at 7:30 p.m. Although in-person viewing is only available for Albion students, both performances will also be livestreamed on the Albion College YouTube channel

Unfortunately for the group, these will be the last two concerts held under the direction of McIlhaga, who announced his retirement at the end of this semester. McIlhaga said he is looking forward to becoming a spectator and audience member of future jazz performances after 17 years of service to Albion College.


The article, originally published on Feb. 22, 2021, has been updated March 3, 2021, as follows:

– Concert dates were updated to reflect changes made to the original performance schedule.

About Shannon Barba 22 Articles
Shannon Barba is a sophomore from Marshall, Michigan, currently double majoring in physics and computer science. After Albion, he hopes to attend graduate school at MIT. In addition to being Co-Marketing Coordinator for the Pleiad, Barba is the Engagements Chair of Student Senate, participant in the Prentiss M. Brown Honors program, member of the Student Volunteer Bureau, mentor for first-year students, pianist for Albion's Jazz Band, representative for the Committee of Student Learning, mentor for Harrington Elementary School, and a member of the Biochemistry Club.

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