Since May 7, a part of the jazz band The Marvel City 5 has performed every Tuesday night in Market Square as a part of the Jazz on the Square series.
The Marvel City 5 includes Keith Brown on keyboard, Taylor Coker on upright bass, Kenneth Brown on drums, Vance Thompson on trumpet and Gregory Tardy on saxophone. All summer long and until their last date, Aug. 27, the five musicians have been performing covers and original compositions in downtown Knoxville.
"I love it because it's a real captive audience and everyone is really into it and everyone gives us a lot of support," Tardy said, who is also an assistant professor of jazz saxophone at UT. "I really feel that Knoxville is a jazz city. I wish there were more venues for people to play in, but this is a great opportunity for people and the city to hear some Knoxville jazz."
Knoxville residents are welcome to bring blankets and beach chairs to the square for the family-friendly performance. At the July 16 performance, around a hundred people gathered around the Market Square stage to hear the Marvel City 5 play.
"I think it is fun, it seems to bring out a lot of families, it's a nice atmosphere," said Kirsten Alam, a Rita's employee. "I have two kids and I have a feeling they would like it too. I think that with the families and the music, it gives them more to do."
Tardy said that the large crowd the series brings in isn't a surprise to him.
"Jazz is America's music; it's like America's classical music," Tardy said, after the July 16 per- formance. "Once people are exposed to good jazz, then they're into it. We've got some really top level music happening here that people just happen to volunteer."
Friends Katrina Goode and Madeline Holman found out about the event when searching through the Knoxville events calendar. They compared it to Sundown in the City, an annual music festival that last happened in 2011, inviting a various group of musicians to play sets downtown.
"I like it because it's different from Sundown because at Sundown it was dirty and everyone was wasted," Holman, a junior in nutrition, said. "This is just a lot of families and there's kids running around, I'm not scared of them. Much classier, it's laid back, it's much more relaxing."
Because the Marvel City 5 strictly plays jazz music, it may disinterest some country music fans.
Goode, a junior in social work, said she appreciated a genre besides country.
"I get tired of all the country," she said. "We were just saying that we think that everything is so country here and we like the city style also and it's nice that we can go to the mountains, which are really close, and we can come here and have city life. Jazz makes it feel like we're in the city right now."
The band plays covers by well-known jazz musicians, such as John Coltrane, but it also performs some original work, most of which is written by Tardy.
"A lot of it depends on if we have time to rehearse and a lot of it depends on what it seems like the audience wants," Tardy said when describing how the band choose what to perform every week. "For instance, I feel like we needed some slow blues in the second set because I feel like the audience just wanted it.
"We love to play originals but we know that people want to hear some stuff that they're familiar with as well."
Jazz on the Square will take place every Tuesday night from 8 to 10 p.m. in Market Square. The last show is scheduled for Aug. 27. The event is free and open to the public.