Cornell Spring Music Festival features jazz, ethnic music

Cornell College will present a free, public Spring Music Festival on Saturday afternoon, April 23, featuring jazz and ethnic styles of music.

Jim Buennig holding a saxophone
Jim Buennig

Part of the Cornell Concert Series, the event will be held in Youngker Hall’s Kimmel Theatre from 1–3 p.m. with performances from the Jim Buennig Jazz Ensemble and Mektoub.

Jim Buennig, director of the Cornell College Jazz Ensemble, is an Iowa City-based saxophonist specializing in a multitude of musical styles with his main focus being jazz. Joining him in the quartet are Dan Padley on guitar, Crystal Rebone on bass, and Chris Jensen on drums. The group has performed regularly at the Iowa City Jazz Festival, the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, and for KUTX’s jazz series in Austin, Texas. In addition to a busy performance schedule, the group has released five albums and produced a livestream concert series throughout the pandemic. 

Mektoub performs a repertoire of Mediterranean folk-jazz and original music by singer-songwriter Daniel Gaglione, an immigrant to Iowa from Southern France.

Mektoub band members Tara McGovern, Drew Morton, Daniel Gaglione, Justin LeDuc, and Ryan Smith.
Mektoub members, from left, are Tara McGovern, Drew Morton, Daniel Gaglione, Justin LeDuc, and Ryan Smith.

His compositional style is rooted in influences from reggae, jazz, and musical traditions from North Africa, and his joyful lyrics often speak to values of social progress and love. Violin and woodwind sonorities create vibrant textures with orchestrations by John Rapson and Ryan Smith. Smith is artist instructor of saxophone at Cornell.

Band members are Gaglione on mandole (a North African stringed instrument) and vocals, Justin LeDuc on drums, Tara McGovern on fiddle, Drew Morton on bass, and Smith on woodwinds. 

Cornell’s public music series dates to 1899 with the inception of the May Music Festival. After 100 years the festival became Music Mondays, featuring a series of Monday evening concerts. In its new incarnation the series brings an eclectic variety of musical styles to the campus throughout the year.