Students Jazzed About Live Music Series


Photo by Sam Baughn

It’s a cool September day in Cathedral Square Park. Gathered around a lively stage, thousands of patrons sit watching as musicians move rhythmically onstage. Music blares from the speakers around them and the atmosphere holds a frenetic sort of calm. 

All the while, the sound of jazz echoes throughout the buildings of downtown Milwaukee. 

For over 30 years, Jazz in the Park has been a staple of the Milwaukee music scene. Every Thursday night from July to September, a different musician or group is chosen to take the stage in a concert entirely paid for by the East Town Association, a Milwaukee non-profit.

After it was canceled the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the concert series returned this year in full swing, with its final performance Sept. 29. 

Reece Bergeron, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she heard about Jazz in the Park from a friend and really enjoyed going.

“She texted me and asked if I wanted to go because I ‘seemed like someone who would like jazz,’” Bergeron said. “I was expecting ‘saxophone jazz’ and instead they had a [talkbox] that made a really high-pitched noise. I listen to more Miles Davis, 40’s and 50’s jazz, so this was kind of new wave but still cool.”

While the concert was different than she expected, Bergeron said she still felt like a part of a Milwaukee tradition.

“It was funny, everyone who was there seems like they go there a lot,” Bergeron said. “They all had their picnics, bottles of wine in  glasses and fancy chairs set up. It’s a fun tradition, I think. It did not seem like it was the people there’s first rodeo.”

The concert also appeals to those who might not be as into the music aspect as well. Bergeron’s roommate Britta Arends, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, said that she enjoyed the social aspect of Jazz in the Park the most.

“I don’t really like jazz music that much, to be honest,” Arends said. “But, I liked it because you could sit close and really pay attention or sit at the back and talk with your friends. You could make as much or as little of the experience as you wanted.”

Despite any reservations she had before going, Arends said she’d likely go to the concert again in the future.

“I would definitely go again,” Arends said. “You can stay weeks on campus, but I try to get out into the city every weekend. This was a great way to do that.”

Arik Zintel, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he really enjoyed the concert because of his love for music and to get out and see Milwaukee. 

“As somebody in music, all of the performers were at the top of their game for sure,” Zintel said. “It was a super fun experience. I think I’ll probably go back at some point. People should go just to get out of their comfort zones, to see Milwaukee a bit and break the ‘Marquette bubble.’”

While it might be intimidating to go to an event in the city at first, Arends said it’s much easier than you might expect.

“It’s just a bus ride down Wisconsin and really chill,” Arends said. “It’s just a nice study break with your friends. [I’d say] go for it, you might as well take every opportunity you can to go into the city.

This story was written by Will Eikenbary. They can be reached at [email protected]