Jazz 1 competes in Newport Jazz Festival, wins Sweepstakes

© HAWKEYE Photo courtesy of William Greif
MTHS Jazz 1 musicians after receiving the Sweepstakes Award at the Newport Jazz Festival.

MTHS Jazz 1 competed in the Newport Jazz Festival last Saturday at Newport High School, winning in the 4A division.

The band also received the Sweepstakes Award, which is given to the most outstanding band in the festival. The award takes into account technical factors, such as notes and rhythms, but also includes the personality and significance of the songs.

“[Music is] way different than sports where there is a definitive score. Music is so incredibly subjective. In the past we’ve gotten polar opposite scores from judges on the same song on the same day,” senior Jacob Krieger said. “The biggest thing is to give the music some sort of meaning, and to do so in a convincing way.”

In addition to the band taking home the top prize, Krieger, who plays the Alto Sax, was honored with the Most Outstanding Soloist Award for the second year in a row. Musicians Joe Walrath, Jun Park, Ryan Leppich and Andrew Sumabat were also recognized as Outstanding Soloists.

“Soloing is important to Jazz because it’s not just about showing off, but it’s expressing yourself through your instrument. It’s all about using your ears and collaborating with others while you play,” Sumabat said.

Band director Darin Faul said a portion of the music played at the Newport Jazz Festival was composed and arranged by MTHS graduates specifically for the MTHS Jazz band.

Soloing is important to Jazz because it’s not just about showing off, but it’s expressing yourself through your instrument. It’s all about using your ears and collaborating with others while you play.”

— Andrew Sumabat

Two months ago, Faul held a competition for MTHS graduates to compose a song for Jazz 1 given information about the band’s strengths, weaknesses and unique factors. The winner would receive $500 and Jazz 1 would play their composition at Hot Java Cool Jazz.

Songs submitted for this contest were also played at Newport.

“I kind of like the idea that even though they’re no longer my students, I was able to encourage them to write music and be creative. To be able to do something they love and get paid for it,” Faul said.

For the first competition, Jazz 1 chose to play “Old Man Blues” by Duke Ellington, “’Fraid Not” by MTHS alumnus Arthur Sagami and “Voodoo Child” by Jimi Hendrix, arranged by Vern Sielert.

“All the songs are great and fit our band very well,” Krieger said. “They’re also awesome crowd pleasers. How can you beat Jimi Hendrix plus a full band to back it up?”

In the final competition at Newport, the set consisted of “Hymn to Freedom” by Oscar Peterson, arranged by MTHS alumnus Mat Montgomery, and “Joy” by MTHS alumnus Bryce Call.

“We chose this set because of the way the songs went together. The first song [Hymn to Freedom] could be pictured as a group of people gaining their freedom, and the second song [Joy] could be seen as their celebration of that freedom. They created a very powerful end to our performance,” Sumabat said.

The next time Jazz 1 performs will be for Hot Java Cool Jazz at the Paramount Theatre on Friday. There, they will again perform Joy, the winning composition of Faul’s contest. The set also features ‘Fraid Not, which was another contest submission, and Hymn to Freedom.

According to Faul, tickets to Hot Java Cool Jazz are sold out, and there will be over 3,000 people attending to hear performances by MTHS as well as Edmonds Woodway High School, Garfield High School, Roosevelt High School and Mount Si High School.