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The Current

Getting groovy in Jazz Band

Playing music as a group is the foundation of Jazz Band. Photo by Benny Gullo.

Dedicated students are arriving at school at 7 a.m., four days a week to practice their musical skills in Jazz Band. 

All this hard work is in an effort to bring wonderful concert experiences that Bruins can attend. Upcoming performances include the Swing Dance on April 2 and Riversong which will be held in late May.

Music teacher David Ahrens gave a detailed description of the Jazz Band and its rich American history.

“Jazz band is an advanced subset of our main band where we are focused on jazz music, which incorporates a large variety of styles, primarily swing music. There is more than a hundred years of popular jazz music that has come about that we play,” Ahrens said.

“We play in what is called a big band setup. The original jazz bands were in smaller groups with a kind of a combo of a lead instrument, like a trumpet. Then, in the 30s and 40s, they started adding more and more players to the band so you would have whole lines of saxophones, a whole line of trombones and trumpets, and then your piano base, drums, and guitar as a rhythm section. That’s what a big band is, and is the layout we use at Bear River.”

Sophomore Olivia Herr loved how she could connect with friends in Jazz Band, explaining just how close they all are.

“I like being able to create music with a bunch of my friends,” Herr enthused. “It’s fun, we all have fun there. It’s something that we all enjoy. We all came into this together. The whole jazz band – we all know each other from Magnolia, so we are a tight-knit group.”

Sophomore Daron Wilson agreed that knowing the members was a big part of playing.

“Knowing everyone there is something that helps us all play,” Wilson said. 

Senior Josh Kors mentioned how his favorite part was his instrument and role, while also acknowledging his fellow members.

“I enjoy my instrument and jazz is just fun to play. I play the drums, and enjoy getting to be the time-keeper for everyone else,” he said. “The other players are competent and committed because we all have to wake up at 6 a.m. and it’s very cold, so the fact that we’re all there is really something.”

“It’s a good skill to learn for the body and mind and it’s something fun. You get to travel sometimes and be a part of the band community, too. It’s really fun to perform.”

Ahrens stressed just how talented the players in the Jazz Band really are.

“It is something that most of the players started in 4th or 5th grade, maybe even somewhere in middle school, but we occasionally get some walk-ons who are new in high school and that is fine too,” Ahrens said. 

“It is something where the students have been playing the instruments for years and working together for years. In a sense, it’s like a team that has moved up together, like how players on the football team might have played together for years before high school.”

“Everyone knows each other well and year-by-year we are gaining skills, becoming better musicians, and learning more technique and music theory.” Ahrens added. “It is an advanced subset of our standard symphonic band. Also, everyone’s music is individualized, whereas in a concert band, there may be a group of people playing the same exact thing as a section.”

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Getting groovy in Jazz Band