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Jazz combo performs at national journalism convention

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MTHS jazz performers came together at the Washington State Convention Center to perform three songs before the spring Journalism Education Association (JEA) National Convention Keynote Ceremony, Thursday April 6.

MTHS’ Jazz Ensemble 1 (Jazz 1) was selected as finalists to participate in the 22nd Annual Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival in New York mid-May.

Journalism advisor and coordinator for the JEA convention Vince Demiero contacted band director Darin Faul after working with the convention’s local organizing committee to suggest a jazz combo play at the Keynote ceremony.

“My idea was to bring attention to the fact that the Seattle area is home to some of the finest jazz musicians of this age anywhere in the world,” DeMiero said.

Faul asked for volunteers from Jazz 1 to perform. While a decent amount came forward, a few people simply couldn’t make it and a few cancelled on short notice, according to senior Andrew Sumabat. Because of this, the group outsourced for other musicians, including bassist Andrew Vinther from Alderwood Middle School.

The preparation was tedious for the brief performance, Sumabat said.

According to Sumabat, jazz combos form from whoever chooses to participate in a certain event and there’s no specific group of people that carry out small ensemble performances.

For these performances, ones that don’t involve an entire band class, there aren’t necessarily run-throughs or specific preparations, Sumabat said.

At this performance, like others, the musicians decided what songs to play when they arrived at the venue by random selection.

“That’s jazz,” junior Dimitrio Neri and Sumabat said in unison regarding the impromptu nature of small ensemble performances.

Sumabat went on to say that the songs performed have been played beforehand, but not in a group practice. The spontaneity is possible because there are “jazz standards,” important and well-known music compositions that students listen to and learn on their own in order to be a part of a freelance ensemble.

“In jazz, you learn as many standards as you can,” Neri said.

Aside from preparing for the unexpected during rehearsal, the jazz combo faced another obstacle when it was time to perform.

The performance began with sound technology problems, senior Dylon Rajah said. Sumabat explained that these sound balance problems led to difficulties hearing the bass, the instrument that “lays down the time.”

While the group agreed that their music was a background event, they also thought the overall quality could’ve been better, and hope to improve as jazz musicians.

In return for the performance, the convention’s local organizing committee gave the Jazz 1 program $500 to fund part of their trip to New York.

In addition to this funding, the band is hosting a swing dance at MTHS that will be open to all of the community on April 29 and will help Jazz 1 go to Essentially Ellington. The dance will feature swing music played by Jazz 1 as well as Jazz Ensemble 2.

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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.
Jazz combo performs at national journalism convention