Friday night’s gloom and rainy weather set the perfect atmosphere for the band’s Sweet Night of Jazz fundraiser. The annual event featured a silent auction, desserts, dancing, and the most lavishing main course of the evening: music.
“We performed around 30 pieces of music from many different styles and genres,” Patrick Sullivan, assistant band director, said. “Most of the music comes from a dance background and many of the tunes we played were based in the big band swing era.”
Among the 30 pieces played by RBHS Jazz Band and Jazz Ensemble included “Peppermint Tree” and “Blue Rain” by Sammy Nestico, as well as “A Blues to Grow On” and “Brazilian Sunset” arranged by Dean Sorenson which featured Gentry and Jefferson middle school’s jazz band.
“My favorite piece [that we played] was ‘Blue Rain’ [by Sammy Nestico]. The piece makes you feel almost as if you’re in a movie, and it’s just very laid back,” Hannah Evans, sophomore alto saxophonist, said. “Also, the trumpet solo in Blue Rain is just phenomenal.”
The Sweet Night of Jazz has been a tradition of RBHS band for six years, originally starting out as a formal dinner and dance. As the years progressed, the event placed more emphasis on jazz music and its culture, the wild, jubilant music that America birthed in the early twentieth century. Hearing it, and more notably, playing it keeps the history of America’s own music abounding and alive, Sullivan said.
“It is America’s first original genre of music we could call our own,” Sullivan said. “Other music up to that point in the United States had very strong European or other Western music influences.”
One of many jewels throughout the evening included the special attendance of the Mizzou Swing Society, a group of college students who specialize in swing dancing, as well as teaching it. Quick to their feet and sprightly in their movements, the professionals led the dance floor boldly and gracefully.
“Parents and students as well as community members look forward to attending the event each year and our attendance keeps growing,” Sullivan said. “Our booster parents alongside our great fine arts secretary, Jan Fowler, are really the people who make this event a tradition.”
Over 200 tickets had been sold prior to the event, with several more sold at the door, Fowler disclosed. All proceeds from the Sweet Night of Jazz will go towards supporting the RBHS band program.