Jazz Pollution funks up Ratmosphere

There’s very little margin for frantic head bopping when devouring a cheesesteak at the Rathskeller, but those boundaries were pushed on Friday when the College Union Board (CUB) hosted funk ensemble Jazz Pollution.

The band, comprised of John Hopper (flute), Alex McDaniel (guitar, lead vocals), Frank Ulatowski (bass), Mike Cohen (alto sax), Nadav Nirenberg (trombone) and Ryan Carver (drums), touched all bases in the world of jazz, from swing to ska.

“We were trying to diversify our Rat selections,” Raquel Fleig, junior communication studies major and co-Rat chair for CUB, said. “Jazz is a genre that we haven’t tapped into yet. We tried last year but couldn’t find any bands that were right.”

Jazz Pollution started with classic jazz. Their sound became more modern as the set progressed – a quality that went over well with the increasing crowd.

Jazz is a very tricky genre to pitch to a younger crowd. Its classical form can be intimidating and unapproachable, and its immediate predecessor, funk, can seem dated.

Looking around, all that was visible were the rocking heads of the audience.

“(The band) just makes me want to dance,” said Stefanie Zitelli, senior elementary education major.

Overall, the band came off as a Justin Timberlake and Ella Fitzgerald love child to which Earth Wind & Fire was a distant first cousin.

The sound was great, and even if Stevie Wonder’s covers rang no bells, Sublime’s tracks were familiar to the audience.