In the spring of 2013, a group of UC Berkeley jazz musicians crowded into the basement of the César E. Chávez Student Center and jammed. The event, coordinated by the student music group UC Jazz Ensembles, quickly blossomed into a more formal, and increasingly popular, monthly show that has since attracted relatively large crowds of students and off-campus audience members. The (literally) underground shows typically happen on the last Thursday of the month during the academic year and have featured a diverse range of musicians and styles — everything from small duos to eleven-person combos, playing funk, swing, hip-hop, jazz standards, freestyle, and much more. The performers tend to be current or former UC Berkeley students. For participating UC Jazz members, it's an opportunity to collaborate with classmates and gain performance experience in an intimate, low-pressure setting. And for audience members, it's a chance to hear talented and up-and-coming jazz musicians — at no cost. The group can cram about fifty to sixty audience members into the basement of the student center, which was often at capacity this past season. Even when it's jam-packed, though, Jazz in the Basement is an awesome way for jazz-lovers in the East Bay to spend a Thursday night.
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