By Sophie Aanerud
The Roosevelt High School auditorium buzzed with anticipation Saturday night. A combination of students, parents, teachers, and general jazz connoisseurs milled about, all ready to bear witness to the first performance of the first performance of Roosevelt’s 2014-15 Jazz Band I.
“It’s so nice to finally be out of the band room, playing for actual people,” remarked director of the Roosevelt Jazz and band program and conductor of Jazz I, Scott Brown, as he stood on stage before the 23-student band.
The concert, which was part of the annual, internationally recognized, Earshot Jazz Festival (which spans from October 10th to November 11th), was opened with an introduction by the festival’s executive director, John Gilbreath. Gilbreath praised the Roosevelt jazz band, reflecting upon its rich history of success in competitions such as Essentially Ellington.
In a performance which spanned almost an hour and a half, the band touched upon a range of material, from standard, bouncing charts written by Sammy Nestico (a primary arranger for the Count Basie Big Band), to more demure ballads such as famed trombonist, J.J. Johnson’s, Lament, and Billy Strayhorn’s intellectually enriching Raincheck. The band closed with an exuberant rendition of Sammy Nestico’s Ya Gotta Try, which featured a rapid-fire tenor saxophone battle between juniors Santosh Sharma and Jesse Beckett-Herbert.
Though the band, in its infancy, lacks the unified sound associated later Jazz I performances in previous years, the great energy and skill of the musicians is undeniable. With a host of performances upcoming (beginning with a free performance Friday, November 14th, at the Seattle Public Library’s Central Branch in which the band will perform selections from the Seattle Public Library’s KOMO collection of sheet music from the 1930s to 1950s), the band will only improve.
As the audience filed from the auditorium, all conversation was on the swinging band and its bright future. It would appear that another strong season is in store for the Roosevelt Jazz Band.