A Night of Swing and Soul

Soft jazz mixed with tangy rhythms fill the auditorium and bounces off the walls as some of the school’s musicians play their favorite jazz artists music.

On Friday, January 11, the jazz ensemble and chorus’s gospel choir will put on ‘A Night of Swing and Soul’, a collaborative performance featuring many jazz artist’s music.

Senior Andrew Cece, who has been in the school’s jazz ensemble all four years, has been preparing with the other musicians for this performance since September. With several director changes and arrangement differentiations, the band feels like a whole new experience each year for Cece.

“This is the first time we’ve done this kind of show. We started learning the music that we know now at the start of the year, however we didn’t know about the show until the winter, so we decided to showcase what we knew at this show,” Cece said. “Our jazz ensemble has definitely evolved over the years and this year our director arranged us into a traditional ‘big band’ setup. We play everything from ballads to swing tunes and often feature soloists.”

Junior Cassidy Dellinger joined the jazz ensemble because of the challenge it presented her as a musician. With a solo in the show, Dellinger has worked to improve her music abilities in a genre she considered her weakest point.

“I wanted to be in the jazz ensemble because that genre has always been my weakest musically, so I figured why not try and work on it to become a better musician,” Dellinger said. “I personally work on improvisation the most on my own time to get better at soloing as well as listen to professional jazz musicians.”

The technicality and variety of emotions that is evoked when performing jazz music is what draws Cece to the genre. The most important part of jazz, for him, is how the better someone is at playing, the better they are at getting across a certain emotion.

“Because of the diversity of the genre, jazz musicians are able to express many different emotions though different styles; the excitement of swing, the sadness of the blues, and the individuality of a featured musicians improvised solo,” Cece said. “However, jazz takes a supple amount amount of knowledge on music theory, which forces jazz musicians to do their homework before stepping on the stage, which in the end, increases the quality of their music.”

Cece gets a lot of inspiration from the jazz musicians he listens to and applies their stylistic songs to his own efforts of playing jazz.

“My favorite big band artist and singer is the one and only Frank Sinatra and my favorite instrumentalist has to be J.J Johnson, who is a trombonist,” Cece said. “Of the five songs we will be performing, my favorite has to be either Fly Me to the Moon, which is a Sinatra classic, or Milestones, which is an upbeat swing tune with some fast runs and fun melodies. Every song is a blast to play, but they each have their own elements that distinguish them and make them seperate in a special way.”

Each jazz artist adds their own personal touch to their music, being able to express themselves with their instruments. Their unique music inspires other jazz musicians, like Dellinger, to challenge their own abilities in the genre.

“The reason I like jazz is because of the challenge it poses as a genre as well as the self expression the medium allows,” Dellinger said. “My favorite jazz artist is Sonny Rollins, who is a very good tenor saxophone player. He’s my favorite because of his unique tone that is crisp and almost raspy at some points.”

Cece hopes that performances like this can capture people’s interest in the genre and inspire them to listen to more of it.

“I’ve been in some sort of jazz ensemble every year since seventh grade and I’ve developed my passion for music further by being in such ensembles,” Cece said. “Jazz is such a unique genre that features instrumentalists in such a diverse, yet appealing, way and I hope that our ensemble can help this type of music gain attention once again.”