Jazz band celebrates success at Eau Claire Jazz Festival


Elianne del Campo

Mr. Gillette directs Jazz 1 during their morning practice. The group is preparing for Bebop and BBQ, which will be held on Saturday, June 1 from 6-10 p.m.

Elianne del Campo, Human Resources Director

This year, both Jazz bands took on a musically inspiring trip to the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire to take part in the annual Eau Claire Jazz Festival. Both Jazz 1 and Jazz 2 arrived at Eau Claire on Friday, April 26 and began their jazz competition the next morning. On Saturday, April 27, the Pablo Center and the Davies Center at Eau Claire were filled up with multitudes of students fully immersed into their jazz spirits. Along with Brookfield Central, sixty-three other bands competed in the Festival and performed in front of a striking audience of more than one thousand people.

Under the baton of the exemplary Mr. Jason Gillette, Jazz 1 began the competition by playing their first piece titled “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue” with exceptional solos from Matthew Falvey (‘19) on the tenor saxophone and Dietrich Frayer (‘21) on the trombone. For their second piece, Jazz 1 played “When You’re Smiling” with a brilliant solo from Adarsh Rajaraman (‘19) on the alto saxophone. Jazz 1 closed their performance with a piece titled “Samba del Gringo,” with more remarkable solos from Kyle Lee (‘20) on the soprano saxophone and Sam Patterson (‘21) on the piano. Overall, the pieces took around fifteen minutes to perform; as another part of the competition, they had to sight read a completely new song given to them on the spot.

Once all schools were finished with their performances, all Jazz bands gathered at 4:30 p.m. at the Ojibwe Ballroom in the Davies Center to receive their awards.

After what seemed like an eternity of waiting for their results, Brookfield Central’s Jazz 1 band was proudly announced as the winner of the High School Class A Big Band Performance. “I don’t know if any of us were expecting to win, but we definitely thought we did well,” claims tenor saxophone player, Tylan Farrokhnia (‘20). “When they called out the second and third place winners, I think we all thought that was it for us. Then when they called our name for first place, we went insane!” After the rush of receiving their award, Jazz 1 was invited to perform one last time for everyone at the Davies Center.

They played “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue” at the night concert, successfully making a remarkable musical impression on their audience. “Talking about the preparation that led to their great performance at UW – Eau Claire, they were very focused and we had fun! When you have fun and you prepare, good things happen” stated Mr. G.

Nevertheless, victory did not arrive easily for Jazz 1. Their masterful playing was preceded by hours of practicing in the band room, including early mornings, late nights, and countless Lancer Blocks spent running through their pieces over and over. “I’m most proud of the fact that this group of students continues to grow in every single rehearsal,” said Mr. Gillette, who witnessed firsthand the Jazz bands’ growth. “I felt like we never took a step backward, and that the time that we had spent was used wisely – whether it would be at seven in the morning or…until nine thirty in the evening. The attitude was always great; the students came hungry to learn. It makes it fun to be a teacher for a group like that,” he asserts.

Once all of their performances were over, both bands were able to enjoy a night full of other jazz shows along the streets of Eau Claire. Rajaraman expands on his experience: “There were many great artists that I got to listen to and even some idols that I got to meet. I think I might continue to attend the festival even after I’m wrapped up with high school.”

Great job to all participants, and congratulations to Jazz 1!