By Lucia Winton
Twenty-six musicians played a challenging repertoire before a full house at this spring’s Upper School Jazz Concert on Friday, May 8, with a performance Jazz Director Pandelis Karayorgis called “exceptional.”
The concert began at 7:00 p.m. in the Chorale Room and featured four groups: the freshman group, the Monday night group, the Tuesday night group, and the Independent Study Jazz Band, each of whom played four to six pieces. Songs included classics such as Sun Ra’s “The Kingdom of Not” and Dexter Gordon’s “Society Red” as well as modern charts like Donald Brown’s “Bye Ya.”
The Tuesday night group’s drummer, Ross Harrison ’17, described the performances as much improved from earlier that year.
“As a band we all have gotten much closer, which allow[ed] us to play better together,” he said.
Mr. Karayorgis agreed, expressing particular pride in how seniors Tynan Friend, Alec Gustafson, Darrith Phan, and Adon Wade-Currie (all ’15) played for their final jazz concert at the school. He also praised the ninth grade group for their great improvement since the Winter Jazz Concert on December 13.
“Overall the Spring Concert tends to be at a higher level since the groups have had an extra five months of practice—especially the freshmen,” he said.
Alec, pianist for the Independent Study group, described his combo’s performance at the Spring Concert as much better overall than its performance at the Berklee High School Jazz Festival in February. Even three months, he said, helped band mates understand each other’s tendencies better and become more comfortable playing together.
“Each group showed improvement from the previous concert,” Alec said. “The highlight was my piano solo, of course, but also there was a lot of student attendance, which was definitely nice to see.”
Tynan, drummer for the Independent Study group, said the ensemble pushed itself to choose difficult and diverse pieces that involved complex time signatures and careful balance among the instruments.
“This performance was among the best of mine at BB&N, if not the best,” he said. “The combination of challenging repertoire, lots of practice, and a really great group of talented musicians was what made the concert so special.”