Nearly every Thursday, students, parents and community members file into the Temple Performing Arts Center’s lobby to hear some soothing sounds.
The Rite of Swing Jazz Café, the Boyer College of Music and Dance’s ongoing jazz series, showcases musicians from Philadelphia, New York City and across the country. Some of them are Temple University students and faculty.
The event occurs almost every week from 4:30-6:30 p.m. during the academic year as a free, walk-in performance venue for music fans to celebrate different forms of jazz music.
Luca Rodoni, a junior jazz performance major and trumpeter, regularly attends the cafe, beginning in his freshman year. He performed in the series for the second time on March 28 with his band, which performs songs from many eras of jazz. Rodini and Temple students Dylan Band and Nathan Pence, alongside Boyer instructors Timothy Brey and Byron Landham, make up the Luca Rodoni / Dylan Band Quintet.
“[The cafe] is inspiring,” Rodoni said. “It brings out opportunities to see a lot of amazing musicians week to week, and then it also serves as a place for the community to come out and be in touch with what’s going on at the jazz program at Temple.”
The jazz series began in September 2014 as a way to bring an afternoon jazz concert series to the Temple community and now hosts more than 30 events throughout the academic year, said David Brown, who is the assistant dean for administrative affairs at Temple’s Center for Performing and Cinematic Arts and helps run the series.
Attendees can buy snacks like pot stickers, chicken tenders and samosas catered by Aramark during performances. The cafe also has a bar that offers beer, wine, mixed drinks and non-alcoholic beverages.
Being able to include both student and professional musicians in the series was a large factor in creating the recurring event, Brown said.
“It’s nice to be able to have an event where we feature students, where we feature faculty,” he added. “Then the students can come the next week, and we have a pro group that comes in from Washington or from New York or wherever, and they can see what a pro group would do in the same situation.”
Jazz, a popular form of music in Philadelphia, makes for a great way to connect community members and non-music-majors to live music, Brown said. About 50 people attend the series each week.
“It’s just something that is really approachable,” he said. “And we have so many students at the university who I know appreciate jazz and who appreciate being able to come to a live performance.”
The series will continue in upcoming academic years. The performance schedule for student, faculty and professional headliners is finalized each June by Jazz Studies Department Director Terell Stafford.
“When you have an event like this that’s good quality music and it doesn’t cost you anything, you really have no excuse,” said Claire Schneider, a freshman jazz vocal performance major who attended the event on March 28.
Schneider regularly attends the cafe to support her friends from Boyer who perform, she said, but she would like to see more vocalists and women take the stage.
Band, a junior jazz performance major, attended the cafe for three years before performing in it. The performances provide good exposure opportunities for budding musicians, he said.
WRTI, a Temple-owned radio station on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 15th Street, records all Rite of Swing Jazz Café performances and airs them the following week.
The cafe is a “free, open space” for students, which makes it easy to support friends by coming to their performances, Band said.
“It’s important to have an easy to access place to see the people at their highest level of performing,” he said. “There’s really no better way to get acclimated to your field of performance than going to performances and performing.”