Jens Kuross

Jens Kuross graduated Wood River High School before studying jazz at Berklee.

    On Wednesday, Aug. 28, the mainstage theater of the Argyros Performing Arts Center will be transformed into a world-class jazz club. The tiered seats will fold back into the wall, opening up the floor for cocktail lounge-style seating, a full bar, a margarita fountain and a taco bar. On the stage, for one night only, Los Angeles-based group the Jens Kuross Trio will provide the soundtrack to the evening.

    The concert is a charity event to benefit the orphans of the Mapalo Care Center in Ndola, Zambia. The Give Hope for Life charity organization was co-founded by local residents Pete DeBrauhn, Josette Stellers Anderson and George Kirk, among others.

    Kuross, who has known DeBrauhn and Kirk for much of his life, leapt at the opportunity to support their charitable efforts.

    “Creating art can become a totally self-involved process. It’s easy to get bogged down asking questions like, ‘Does my art have meaning?’ and ‘What about my art?’ It can become deeply introspective and borderline narcissistic,” he said. “Any opportunity to do something you love to benefit someone else is refreshing. It’s so wonderful to know that something you do might mean something to someone else, might make a difference in someone’s life. It adds another dimension.”

    The name Jens Kuross may be familiar to Wood River Valley residents. Kuross and his family moved to Ketchum when he was around 5.

    “I grew up there, spent my formative years there,” the jazz drummer and singer-songwriter related.

    After graduating from Wood River High School, Kuross studied jazz at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.

    For Kuross, who leads his eponymous trio as both vocalist and percussionist, charity events like this one get to the heart of what jazz is all about.

    “Jazz is often personified as hoity-toity or epicurean, exclusive,” he said. “That’s how it’s perceived, because it challenges you, asks something of you as a listener, but for anyone who takes the time to really listen to it, it opens up a whole new universe.”

    Jazz, to Kuross, is something “of the people” and represents the “salt of the earth,” and he ought to know, since he studied it at one of the most celebrated music schools in the world and plays jazz for a living. Using it as a tool to help those less fortunate reaches the true roots and power of jazz.

    Tickets for the evening cost $20, with all proceeds going to benefit the orphans of the Mapalo Care Center. Jazz enthusiasts and the philanthropic at heart can purchase tickets online at theargyros.org or by phone at 208-726-7872.

    Anyone who cannot attend but wishes to donate may still do so either at theargyros.org or givehopeforlife.org.

    To preview some of Kuross’ music, visit jenskuross.com/listen or find him on Spotify.

    His original songs and instrumental compositions will help transform the Argyros for an evening of topnotch jazz, generous charitable giving and plenty of fun.

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