Coffee and a show


photo by Sophie Hill

Senior John McHale and junior Jason Donnelly perform at Kaioen Coffee during Friday night’s Jazz Night.

In the freshly painted white walls dappled with sparkling fairy lights, Kaioen Coffee hosted its first Jazz Night on Feb. 26. The Friday evening was chilly, prompting everyone to order lattes and head upstairs as the Ënsomnia Trio, a local jazz group, took to the small stage.

The audience got more than what they bargained for, however, when senior John McHale and junior Jason Donnelly braved the cold, trekked to their cars, and came back to join the jazz ensemble with their instruments.

“We didn’t expect to play, but after I talked to the manager last night I figured it would be fun to try and see what would happen” McHale said. “Because they were so good, once we got going we all just worked off of each other and jammed out.”

You can feel the energy of everyone enjoying it. It’s so intimate.”

— Jason Donnelly

Donnelly, on the saxophone, and McHale, on the trombone, jammed with the band for a few songs, feeding off of the excitement of the room.

“You can feel the energy of everyone enjoying it,” Donnelly finished. “It’s so intimate.”

McHale, who has been playing for seven years, says music on campus is like “a cult”; operating behind closed doors and keeping most of their work secretive. He says having his friends come out to support him is not only meaningful, but helps make music more approachable unlike the uniformed mass seen on the football field.

“To see your friends there who aren’t usually exposed to music is really cool because you get to share your passion with them that usually you don’t really get to share with anyone else,” McHale said.

The two band members played to the room of about 20, improvising and getting lost in the music along the way.

“The guys who joined us were really good,” Ënsomnia Trio member John Read said. “Playing music is such a stress reliever, and to be able to share that with them and with the small venue was a great experience.”

Both McHale and Donnelly will be continuing to play music in college. McHale will be choosing from FSU, UCF and University of Pittsburgh while Donnelly plans to major in music at the University of North Texas.

Kaioen Coffee is outlining its schedule for future Jazz Nights in the months to come. They also plan on beginning a poetry open mic and other artistic, cultural activities.

“We really want to provide a cool, relaxing atmosphere in Oviedo,” manager Juan Franco said. “We’re hoping that the sophistication and relaxation of good coffee and good music and good poetry will support the community, support local acts, and really bring people together.”

Ënsomnia Trio also will be continuing to perform at Austin’s Coffee on Thursday nights at 9 p.m.

As for whether McHale and Donnelly will be joining their next performance at Kaioen at the end of March, they both say they hope to, and they hope other people will come out to listen regardless.

“Even if you don’t like jazz, you’ll like Jazz Nights,” Donnelly said. “There’s something for everyone.”