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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Jazz at the Wit’s End

“There seems to be about a third more people here than usual,” said Gwen MacKay, assistant manager at the Wit’s End. It is five o’clock on a Thursday and the place is pretty well crammed with students studying, chatting, and, tonight only, soaking up some cool vibes, thanks to guitarist Akil Hashim.

Hashim loops through a number of riffs in his first set, which show off his virtuosity. Listening, one can pick up strains of jazz, folk, rock, and rhythm-and-blues. He keeps it in the background – some students really are trying to study – but while watching, one can’t help but imagine a larger band playing alongside.

Tall, thin, with just a touch of gray in his beard, Hashim has played with the best of them, jamming with Spyro Gyra and other jazz greats. Over a cup of coffee, he tells his story in an easygoing manner. Like many, he started playing music in his teenage years, eventually – get this – trading in his minibike for two guitars.

His six year old son, Khalif, and his lovely wife Lisa, a UMB anthropology student, are both in the audience. But Hashim treats the crowd as if they were all family. It’s part of his religion, he explains. A follower of Islam for nearly twenty years, Hashim believes in its tenet of “magrood”, or brotherhood.

The Wit’s End has played host to poetry readings and short plays. Billy Indrisiano, the Wit’s End’s general manager, is receptive to other events. “Anybody can play here, as long as their music’s not too loud or too offensive.” Seven days’ advance notice and it could be you up on stage, capturing the crowd.