Mr. Chair brings gender fusion to Rose Bowl Tavern


Photo courtesy of Anya Kubilus

Mr. Chair, a genre-fusing jazz and rock quartet, kicks off its spring tour at the Rose Bowl Tavern on Race Street on Sunday.

On March 13, Mr. Chair, a genre fusion group, will kick off their spring tour at the Rose Bowl Tavern in Urbana.

Mr. Chair is a quartet from Madison, Wisconsin, which was founded in 2016. The classically trained musicians have an affinity for jazz and progressive rock, boasting their unique blend of diverse genres.

“It’s freely improvised,” said Jason Kutz, Mr. Chair’s pianist/keyboardist. “It kind of moves through composed music and improvisation seamlessly, so a lot of the original music we do is exactly that.”

Mr. Chair consists of Kutz, bassist Ben Ferris, trombonist Mark Hetzler and percussionist/drummer Mike Koszewski. The group regularly collaborates with other musicians, including guitarist José Guzmán, who graduated from the University in 2020.

“That’s kind of how it goes,” Kutz said. “We have this main quartet, and then we really like to have other people come in and show what they’re doing with Mr. President’s vehicle, and that gives us a chance to try other things. “

Mr. Chair’s show at Urbana will be their first performance at the Rose Bowl Tavern. The gig is also the band’s first stop on their spring tour.

Kutz said he hopes Mr. Chair’s music will bring joy, hope and excitement to Champaign-Urbana. He said he was looking forward to playing Rose Bowl Tavern and showcasing the band’s versatile sound.

“We’re on the line between a band that works well in a bar and really live music,” he said. “I think we’re better suited to listening rooms when people want to focus on the music.”

Mr. Chair’s music is meant to bring light into the world and get people to “think about things and themselves” and the world, Kutz said, saying he hopes the band’s music “will transport them for a minute to a place where maybe they have their paradise”. not been or they were.

“We can write songs that mean something to us, but when someone listens to them, it’s completely individual,” Kutz said.

He said music allows listeners to think about what they hear without explicitly telling them how to interpret the songs.

“The amazing thing about music is that it’s just a sound in the air, and however they (the listeners) want to interpret that, or wherever they’re taken, whatever either the memory that pops up, or whatever way they might be inspired or thinking, that’s totally valid,” Kutz said. “And that’s what’s amazing about music.”

Mr. Chair will also perform some of his new tracks from his upcoming album, “Better Days,” at the Rose Bowl on Sunday. The album will be released in late spring or early summer.

Kutz said some themes of “Better Days” are hope, camaraderie, family and introspection.

“A lot of the music was written during the pandemic,” he said, “so the focus is on the images and the feelings that we felt. And then there’s a lot of loss, so there there are a few tracks that focus on family loss.

After Urbana, Mr. Chair will continue his week-long spring tour, heading to Nashville, Tennessee; Atlanta, Georgia; Gainesville, Florida; Tampa, Florida; and Winter Park, Florida. Kutz said the band hopes to do another tour this summer.

“Without trying to sound too full of myself,” Kutz said, “I’m pretty confident that you’ve never really heard music like this. is something we are constantly perfecting.

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