On Friday, Feb. 24 the RBHS Jazz band and ensemble set out to Northwest State University (NWSU) and the next day traveled to University of Central Missouri (UCM) to participate in two jazz festivals. The bands left RBHS early Friday morning, spent the night in Maryville and continued on their journey the following day.
Freshman Katy Miller spent her first jazz trip knit close together with her band mates and learning how their talents fit together.
“I think spending that amount of time traveling and not being apart brought us closer together as an ensemble,” Miller said. “This was our first competition and we played really well together. We could always improve from our previous performances, however, and hopefully we will.”
On stage, the ensembles worked hard to improve from what they learned in class. The jazz band, directed by Patrick Sullivan, Jazz ensemble, directed by Steve Mathews as well as a jazz combo that met outside of school led by student teacher Sam Riley all performed at their highest level, said sophomore trombone player Liam Peck.
“I got to watch all the other RBHS bands and improve from what I saw them do as well as from what mistakes I made while playing,” Peck said. “Listening to the other bands helped me know from an outside point of view what to do and what not to do.”
The energy from watching other bands drifted over to the RBHS’s performances. Rooting from swing, jazz carries an environment that isn’t necessarily as competitive as it would be if it was a different type of music, Peck said. Even with the lack of intense competitive energy, however, the bands still conjured up all of their talent in order to perform well.
“We had an intense amount of energy on stage,” Miller said. “It was really a chill environment, which I really enjoyed, unlike other competitions like concert band or marching band.”
As well as watching other high school bands such as Hickman High School (HHS,) the RBHS jazz members had the opportunity to watch the Count Basie Orchestra, an award winning band that visited NWSU on their 2017 tour.
“[It was] an extra special treat to [watch Count Basie] perform,” Mathews said. “[It ended] an already successful weekend for the jazz program.”
The receiving for the bands were not scarce, with the RBHS ensembles and soloists bringing some a cumulative eleven awards just from NWSU. At UCM, RBHS earned another twelve awards. The awards don’t come from mere talent alone, however, Miller said, but chemistry as a band.
“We play really tight as a group,” Miller said. “It’s become less of an individual talent oriented ensemble and more of a team all working together towards the same goal.”
Have you heard them play? What is your favorite set?