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The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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JPEG Sessions, jazz-infused band, serenades Goldstein’s audience

Wyatt Bible/The Collegian
Joseph Saelee plays the keyboard in JPEG Sessions.

About 10 current and former Fresno State student musicians performed underneath a disco ball attached to a giant paper mache horse that is jumping off of a diving board next to a boat at Goldstein’s stage in Fresno’s Tower District.

This was a part of the band JPEG Sessions’ third set at this venue. Its band members invited friends to join in and play with them for a solo-filled jam session mid-way through the show.

Shawni Hamiltion is the vocalist for JPEG Sessions. (Wyatt Bible/The Collegian)

”We kind of told them like, ‘Hey guys, bring your horns if you’re coming tonight so we could jam.’ And yeah, that went really well,” said Shawni Hamilton, vocalist and Fresno State alum.

JPEG Sessions is a local jazz-infused R&B group made up of four Fresno State students and graduates. The group performed in front of a large crowd at Goldstein’s on Feb. 23.

Hamilton said the performance was high energy and made for a good night of music.

“[This is] probably my favorite [show] just because we really picked our favorite things to play, but also threw some new things in there that people haven’t heard from us yet,” she said.

The four members of JPEG Sessions all met at Fresno State through classes or performing in campus ensembles. Members include: Hamilton as vocalist, Paris Evans on saxophone and flute, Joseph Saelee on keyboard and Ethan Souza on drums.

To continue their passions for music and performing, they decided to form the band in 2022.

“Hey guys, we’re just a few friends from Fresno, CA that likes to make music,” the band’s YouTube channel says. The YouTube channel is also where the band’s audition video for the 2023 NPR Tiny Desk Contest can be found.

Throughout the two-hour set, the group performed many R&B covers with extended solo sections that each member took part in. From songs by Erykah Badu to James Brown, the audience cheered on enthusiastically.

The audience are full of emotion during JPEG Sessions’ performance. (Wyatt Bible/The Collegian)

One of those in attendance was Marena Moua, a Fresno State psychology student. Moua went to the event to support friends in the band, but also to have fun and hang out with fellow students.

“I knew that I’d see people in the community too,” Moua said. “And we were just here all for the same reason. And that was just to enjoy the music.”

This was Moua’s first time seeing JPEG Sessions in person, not just online, so she could finally show her appreciation.

“They’re just inspiring. So I wanted to see them and to tell them how their inspiration has made me enjoy music,” she said. “And yeah, that’s why I came. Just to pretty much connect with people and be inspired.”

Moua also appreciated the environment that was created that night at Goldstein’s. While it was a social event with the building packed full of people, everyone was still enjoying the music.

“It left for a really open space for everybody to have a good time. And a lot of people are here from the college too. So that goes back to the college culture. It’s things that you don’t really know about at Fresno State, but it’s such a niche community,” Moua said.

Joey LeForge, a graduate student in literature, said that he spent his Saturday night hanging out with friends and enjoying JPEG Sessions’ music. This was his first time watching the band.

“It was a good vibe and got everyone out there and participating,” LeForge said.

Hamilton and the rest of the band said they are excited for the future as they have at least five more gigs in the coming month, including another at Goldstein’s. They are also starting to work on original songs that will debut soon.

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