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UConn Co-op: Jazzing up Thursday nights at Storrs Center

By Zarrin Ahmed
On January 31, 2014

  • Thursday night jazz returns, moving from Lu’s Cafe in the Family Studies Building to the new UConn Co-op in Storrs Center. Jon Kulakofsky/The Daily Campus


Children dancing to upbeat drums, saxophone solos filling the open space, chatter from students and residents at tables filled with food - if you waltz through Storrs Center and into the new bookstore on Thursday nights, you're likely to find all of it there.
The musicians that once played in Lu's Café located at the basement of the Family Studies building will now play jazz every Thursday night at the Co-op Bookstore. Though there is a change in venue, the combined effort of both the Le Petit Marche Café at the bookstore and Lu's Café made jazz nights still possible and even better.
"This is awesome, we've been in the co-op before and just went from Lu's café," said Colin Walters, a member of the jazz group UConn Jazz and founder of the Colin Walter quintet that performed Thursday night. He described how all the cafes are connected, so it's been a group effort that isn't just limited to the cafés and musicians.
Suzy Staubach, General Books Manager of the Co-op, described how the Le Petit Marche café was just another café on the Storrs campus that accepted points and saw students regularly. The new bookstore has an open floor layout with the café toward the back, complete with tables and chairs. In the middle of it all a piano rests against a wall, open to anyone willing to play it. There is a children's reading section, a conference room and even space for a Puppetry Museum next to a table filled with puppets for sale. The museum will open with a ceremony on March 1.
The bookstore was pushed by UConn in an effort to spread its wings. Partnering with the Puppet Museum, UConn Co-op opened the new bookstore to act solely as a bookstore while the Co-op Store next to Gampel sells everything else, including text books. The location of the store makes it possible for students and residents alike to mingle in a shared space with reading, food, and music.
In contrast to Lu's Café, the brighter lighting, spaciousness, and diverse crowd was a step up for the Colin Walters quintet. Having played in several venues already, Walters was excited to be able to get the group's name out to a bigger audience.
"A lot of people go to school here and aren't exposed to jazz music," said Walters. "So we're just trying to show them another side to UConn."
The group played two one-hour sets, the first of which had children dancing right in front of the musicians. In between the first two songs, Walters thanked the crowd for coming and encourage them to grab a bite while they provided the music. Director of Jazz, Earl MacDonald joined his students during the second one-hour set on the piano.
This was the first of many Thursday jazz nights to come, so if you're up for enjoying some good music, good food and good reading, swing by the UConn Co-op at seven and you're sure to find all three.

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