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Jazz Students Prepare for December Concert

On December 5, the Boys’ Latin Jazz Ensemble will take part in the annual Winter Concert.  In the few months leading up to the concert, the musicians learn new music and prepare to perform.

The concert will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Iglehart Gym.  Before the Jazz Ensemble takes the stage, Chorus, Handchimes and the Jazz Workshop will perform.  The concert night ends with three jazz tunes.

“The Best of Earth Wind & Fire Medley,” “El Gatotriste,” and “Watermelon Man” are on the agenda for the Jazz Ensemble which includes juniors and seniors.  Alex Stengel, Chase Bailey, Will Krulak, Myles Davis, Michael Scandora, and I will play solos in these three songs.  The entire band puts in hard work during rehearsals throughout the months leading up to the performance.

Preparing for a BL concert takes longer than one may think.  Matt Pisarcik, the jazz teacher, said, “Prepping for a concert actually starts, believe it or not, back in like March of the previous year.”  It is around this time when Pisarcik starts to find music and take suggestions on what songs to play in the following year.  

Pisarcik mentioned that he generally looks to start the jazz concert with a fast opener which grabs the audience’s attention, a middle tune that is a little more interesting or slower, and one last song to end strong.  The band has made substantial progress with the three tunes so far and strives to perfect each one.

Repetition during rehearsals is key for the band.  Notes and rhythms are consistently improved in class.  However, these notes and rhythms cannot be retained if the musicians only practice in class.

A critical piece to improvement is the practice that happens at home.  Students are heavily encouraged to take their instruments home every day.  Each weekend, an assignment is due where the musicians have to record themselves playing through the three songs.

The Jazz Ensemble is split into two different blocks in the BL schedule.  Each class meets four to five times a week.  Once a week, both sections will meet during the 35-minute activity period on Tuesdays.

Chase Bailey, a senior pianist for the Jazz Ensemble, stated that rehearsals can be a mess sometimes but end up being productive.  He continued, “It’s nice to be able to get that full-force sound instead of having to divide up the sound 50/50 throughout the [two] classes.”

Walker Campbell, a junior in the ensemble, appreciates the small size of the band and how he has been able to develop stronger relationships with other musicians through music.  Playing trombone allows him to express himself in a way he is not quite able to otherwise.  He said, “With an instrument, you can do a lot of really cool stuff, like when improvising.”

Kwaku Akuffo is a junior who will sing in his sixth concert performance this December.  He remarks that there is a build up from the Chorus’ songs to the Jazz Ensemble’s closing performance.  Akuffo continued, “They [the Jazz Ensemble] do an amazing job each and every year, their music selection is great, and they always surprise people with their amazing solos.”

Mark Newman, a senior at BL, considers coming to watch the concert to support his fellow classmates even though he does not particularly like jazz.  He realizes that concerts are somewhat rare in high school compared to sports games and that it is important to support BL students when they express themselves in a form of art.

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