It has been a busy year for the Yuma Jazz Company musicians.
First, their music began to receive airplay on international radio stations. Now they have a variety of new venues booked in the Yuma area to showcase their live performances.
“We entered into an agreement with World Music Prose that is promoting our music worldwide,” said band member Steven Hennig. “The original music is getting (played) in some exotic locations, including New Brunswick, Canada; Queensland, Australia; and Pittsburgh. And now this season, we are set to play at a bunch of different places on a bunch of different dates.”
Jazz aficionados can now hear the YJC play throughout the fall and winter at various locations including Julieanna’s, Hunter Steakhouse, Yuma’s Main Squeeze and the new Arizona Sweets Cafe in the Foothills.
Hennig said the new venues are proof that the Yuma jazz scene has been growing over the past 10 years since moving here from San Diego and struggling to find other musicians with similar tastes in music.
“When I first came here, I was just trying to find someone to play with. So one thing that’s interesting to me is that even though Yuma is not a very jazz-oriented area, a group that’s been able to play different places and develop a jazz scene is kind of cool. It’s unique and interesting that it has continued to work all these years.”
Oftentimes, Hennig said, individuals unfamiliar with the genre will inquire why a musician chooses to perform jazz as opposed to more popular or commercial styles.
“For me it’s an easy answer. I love the music. I love the history and the freedom of the music. What makes it different from other kinds of music is the improvisation element.”
Hennig said unlike other music formats where artists are constrained by the arrangement of each song, jazz allows an artist the opportunity to explore music in a different way at every performance.
“I view jazz as a canvas you are about to create upon. You never know what is going to happen until it happens. Every show is different based on the feeling of the audience you are playing for, the moods of the people who are playing, the venue itself, and any number of factors.
“To me that’s what sets jazz apart. And when it works well, it’s the coolest thing in the world and you just want to do it again.”