By Allie Dagg
On March 19th, the Newton South Jazz Ensemble won gold for the second time (after winning gold the previous week) at a statewide Jazz competition run by the Massachusetts Association for Jazz Education, or MAJE. This competition consists of a district round and a state-wide round. The band first won gold at districts, which then allowed them to go to a state-wide round, where they also won gold. In both rounds, professional jazz musicians listened to the students and gave them feedback based on their performance. Clearly, they were impressed with South’s immense talent.
Junior Thomas Blum, a member of the group, explains the process as nerve wracking, but also exciting– since the winner of this competition gets to play at the Hatch Shell in Boston.
Winning gold does not just happen by luck. The Newton South Jazz Ensemble works extremely hard throughout the school year to make sure they are at their best for this competition. Not only is it an in-school class, but there are also rehearsals weekly after school. Junior Abigail Miller, another member of the band, explains, “We have been practicing a set of three songs for these competitions. A mix of older styles and more modern stuff. We have three rehearsals during the week– two during school and one on Monday nights– where we play through the pieces, and work out problems so that we know what we need to go home and practice. Those of us who take solos (improvisation) in the pieces also need to practice that to make it the best possible.”
The group competed against schools all across the state, getting first place state recognition. Now, their hard work is paying off as they are able to perform in the famous Hatch Shell in May, in the Gold Medal Showcase.
Special recognition for solos went to:
On “East St. Louis Toodle Oo”: Caleb Fried on trumpet, Ben Romanow on trombone, Iñaki Uribe-Montoya on clarinet, Miller on soprano sax.
On “Suspended”: Miller on soprano, Fried on trumpet, Romanow on trombone, and Danny Silverston on piano.
On “Tribute”: Silverston on piano, Daniel Doubenski on tenor sax, Thomas Blum on trumpet, Miller on alto sax.