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Weber State University’s department of performing arts and Ogden’s Union Station Foundation presented Jazz at the Station on Wednesday, Sept. 12, where vocalist Liz Woolley performed a few of her original pieces.
Jazz at the Station has lasted all summer long, and is usually held outside on Ogden’s Historic 25th Street. However, due to St. Benedict’s annual banquet, the last show of the summer was moved to one of the ballrooms inside the Union Station instead. Because of this last-minute change, the concert started 20 minutes late. But that didn’t stop the crowd from being full of community members, WSU students and alumni.
The band itself is called “Benjamin Jennings and Friends.” The band chose this name because it often switches out band members and one performance is never the same as another. The band includes Benjamin Jennings on vocals, bass and percussion; Holly Bowden on the flute; Richard Bush on the saxophone; Kevin Johansen on the guitar; Don Keipp on vibes, drums and conga; Shannon Roberts on the trombone; James Schaub on bass and vocals; Justin Torres on the oboe and English horn, and Woolley on vocals.
“My favorite part of the concert was how the musicians interacted with each other, to let everyone know that their solo was coming or that it was near the end of a song,” said Gaby Garcia, a member of the audience. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I liked what I heard.”
Throughout the concert, the band shifted around, switching instruments and vocalists, and even talking to each other during certain pieces. Woolley was the main vocalist and played two of her original songs, which are available on iTunes — “Apple of my Eye” and “Even After All This Time.” She played a duet with Schaub called “Summer Time,” from her album A Little Bit Romantic. Her final numbers included “Over the Rainbow” and “That’s All,” which she performed with the entire group.
“This concert was way better than I thought it was going to be,” said Trisha Hughes, an audience member from Layton, Utah. “I’ve listened to a little jazz on the radio, but I really liked it live. I am especially interesting in hearing Liz perform again.”
Woolley, originally from Wisconsin, attended Snow College, majoring in piano performance. She joined the jazz band the next year as pianist and lead jazz vocalist. She has attended the Juilliard Rhythm Section workshop twice, where Ted Rosenthal called her a “triple threat — singer, classical and jazz pianist.”
“It was really great that I started at Snow College, because that’s how I got my start in jazz; I was just a classical pianist before,” Woolley said. “I didn’t know what I was doing, but I got picked from Carlisle, the Juilliard guy, and he told me to play a solo, and at first I was like, ‘What do you want me to do?’ That was how I got started.”
Woolley later graduated from Utah State University with a master’s in music therapy. She will be participating in an internship in Columbus, Ohio, this fall. At 26 years old, Woolley is continually writing tunes, whether in the style of jazz, bluegrass, folk, pop or for music therapy. Her bluegrass band, “The Pretty Darns,” will be playing at the Notch Pub in Kamas, Utah, on Friday, Sept. 14.
The day of the performance just so happened to be Benjamin Jennings’ birthday. His mother is Caril Jennings, the marketing director of the performing arts department at WSU, who hosts the Jazz at the Station events.