The University Cafe offers different types of music and events for students each night. On Thursday nights, the cafe holds karaoke night, and on Sundays acoustic music is performed. STATESMANSTOCKPHOTO
The University Café offers different types of music and events for students each night. On Thursday nights, the café holds karaoke night and on Sundays, acoustic music is performed. STATESMAN STOCK PHOTO

Jazz nights are held every Wednesday from 8 to 11 p.m. in the University Café, located between the Union and the Recreation Center. Undergraduate and graduate students of the university perform jazz music. Students 21 and over are welcome to come relax, have a drink, do some homework or hang out with friends.

“I just want to get acts that appeal to our age group,” Nicholas J. Bechtel, the Graduate Student Organization production director in charge of booking bands for jazz night, said. “I feel like college is a time to experiment with music and learn about new things and see artists that may not be ones ideal genre, but to be captivated by something new and interesting.”

GSO is the working government of the graduate student program for Stony Brook. Bechtel works alongside Mary Garvey, the media specialist for GSO, to try and spread the word to graduate and of-age undergraduate students of events, like jazz night, that are offered by GSO.

“GSO is so small that all it takes is Nick to pick the band and me to organize it,” Garvey said. “USG has to take care of a lot more kids and it takes a lot  more to put a concert together because its so big.”


The café itself is very relaxed, especially on Wednesdays to try and set the mood for jazzy music. Tables  are scattered all around the café, with the bar in the back and stage toward the front. Blue overhead lighting fills the entire bar, with colorful lights set up on the café stage where the jazz performances are held.

Last Wednesday, April 18, student jazz band, Kickback Trio, played for the first hour and a half on stage. After performing, the band took a break and invited students to go on stage and play music with them for the last hour of the night. Some students hopped on stage to sing, others came prepared with instruments to come on stage.

The Kickback Trio has been headlining the jazz nights for the past three years.

The band is made of three members: Chris Howard on the drums, Keenan Zach on the bass and Lluis Capdevilla on the piano. All players are in the graduate program at the university and are planning to continue playing at jazz nights.


Capdevilla said Kickback Trio performs at other venues outside of Stony Brook and has structured practices, but while on stage at jazz nights, almost everything performed is improvised.

“I like to play jazz because of the freedom it has with playing,” Capdevilla said. “Nowadays music is very structured, but when we are performing, yes, we know the frame, we know the melody and we know the harmony, but we are improvising on stage.”

Bands like Kickback Trio used to pull in hundreds of students each Wednesday night, but over the years, jazz night lost its spark on campus.

Bechtel said he has been working with Garvey to try and get jazz nights back to being the “popular spot on campus it used to be.”

Bechtel said when he was a freshman and came to his first event at UCafé, there were 300 people there.


“People were bursting out of the doors. And when I saw this band and I loved them, and I’ve been here ever since,” he said.

Student attendance depends several factors, like weather, when midterms are and other events that might be happening on campus that night.

“Sometimes the café is so packed with people I can not move,” Garvey said. “Sometimes there’s just ten to fifteen people. It depends on a lot of things.”

While some nights are more packed than others, jazz night continues to successfully offer students a way to learn about, what is usually considered an off-the-beaten path music genre.

“I love coming here and listening to the performances,” said Robyn Quinnett, a first-year graduate student, said. “That’s a thing about listening to this kind of music. You’ll either feel something or you don’t, simple as that.”


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