Jazz musicians from all around Washington gathered for the 27th annual MTHS Jazz Symposium on Saturday, Oct. 28. This educational music event allowed jazz students to perform and share their music in various performances. From small combos to big band groups, the symposium featured a variety of experience and talent at MTHS.
The Jazz Symposium was hosted by the MTHS band educator Darin Faul with the support of Mountlake Terrace Music Boosters. Amy and Brian Faris were big contributors to the success of the event, organizing the schedule of performances and gaining help from volunteers and parents alike. Kennelly Keys also supported the event by supplying instruments.
Students performed in large ensembles representing their school in the MTHS theater. Afterward, heading to clinic sessions to receive feedback from professionals in the jazz industry invited by Faul. They also had the opportunity to perform in small combo groups held in the music rooms. The adjudicator of those combos was Kate Olson, an improvising saxophonist and music educator from Seattle.
Olson enjoyed partaking in the symposium, this being her first time adjudicating for an event of this magnitude.
“It sounded like a lot of fun to me [to be part of the symposium]. I think my perspective is unique in that I’m really interested in kids getting a good grounding in the history of jazz,” said Olson.
Throughout the combo performances, Olson commented on the arrangement of pieces, referencing famous jazz artists such as Duke Ellington and offering advice to students in communicating and bettering their performances. She believes combo are unique in emphasizing the “idea of communication and flexibility in performances,” allowing a musician to “hone” in their craft.
Jazz students such as sophomore Ernesto Torrez and junior Henry Smith Hunt felt the symposium was a great learning experience and got something out of it. Smith-Hunt views the symposium as a great opportunity for bands to come together and do what they love. He describes the interactions with the other bands as being inspirational, having musicians build each other up and support one another. In his performances, he gained feedback about listening to section leaders to better the performances.
“You know, [jazz is about] being able to take one person’s point of view and melt together into one big idea,” Smith-Hunt said.
Torrez expressed similar views and sees this non-competitive jazz symposium as being all “about the [jazz] community” and its musicians of differing grade levels gathering around. He feels the MTHS Jazz 1 ensemble has greatly improved and provides his thoughts on them having a chance to get into Essentially Ellington, an annual jazz competition in New York for which over thousands of bands audition.
During the symposium, a professional jazz music group known as the 45th St. Brass performed in the theater for jazz lovers of all ages. The leader of the group, Peter Daniel, is a former MTHS student who graduated in 2001. Faul personally invited Daniel to perform and amaze the crowd with his band’s unique style of music.
“[Our music] is jazz, [with] a lot of funk influences—I think I call it funk soul brass. It’s based off the New Orleans tradition surrounding the sousaphone and a bunch of other horn players,” Daniel said.
45th St. Brass is widely acclaimed in the jazz industry for their complex and modern take on the tradition. Daniel enjoyed playing for a different type of crowd at the symposium; their normal gigs are comprised of night shows and cater towards an older demographic. He especially enjoyed listening to students play and encouraging them to just practice in order to grow as a musician.
With the bubbling energy of the musicians and the smiling faces of students and parents mingling around the hallways of MTHS, one would say this symposium really does bring the spirit of jazz to people.