East’s jazz bands come together for spring concert of musical unity

The big band performs their song ‘Chameleon’ at the February 9th jazz concert in the Performing Arts Center. “Many of us go through life like how we play jazz. We improvise,” big band member Elenda Mendoza said. Photo by Kayli Link.

East’s jazz program held a concert Wednesday, February 9th in the PAC bringing together all of the jazz bands to show their growth as a band throughout the year. 

Between the four bands — the Bednarcik jazz band, big band, jazz band, and the jazz ensemble — 15 songs were performed, each of them providing something unique. And as each song was performed, it became more evident that each band worked as a team and performing was their way of tackling any challenges that presented themselves.

Jazz ensemble and big band member Andrew Sniegowski said that though there have been challenges in preparing for the concert, the bands have done a great job of coming together and overcoming any difficulties.

“We were two trumpet [players] down, so we were given a whole bunch of stuff we had to change and work on in order to make up for that loss. So it was definitely challenging having to learn new stuff literally on the day of the concert,” Sniegowski said.

Big band member and tenor saxophonist junior Elena Mendoza added that being short two trumpet players was difficult.

“[Being short two trumpet players] was probably really stressful for the trumpets because they need to play louder to be heard because in jazz everyone is responsible for how they sound as a group and be aware of it at all times. That’s how everyone keeps tempo together and overall is a well-rounded group,” Mendoza said.

Jazz director Stevan Rexroat said that during the past few concerts, band members have had to adapt to member absences. 

“We are never sure if we are going to have all of the members of the ensemble there. Having students who can cover each other’s parts if one of them is absent is very helpful and we had to do that at our concert,” Rexroat said. 

According to sophomore Hayden Hrvatin, the band has further adapted to challenges.

“Some of the saxophone players in our big band — a lot of them start on clarinet. They aren’t even saxophone players but they are doing so great. They have the nicest tone,” Hrvatin added.

Despite all of the challenges the bands faced, they were still excited to come together over a common interest: their love for performing jazz music.

Senior jazz band member Sarah Weirschem added that she was glad to see each band’s hard work pay off. 

“It was great to see everyone performing together,” Weirscherm said. “All the soloists and different bands were great.”

Sneigowski added that he really enjoyed each of the songs that they had gotten to play.

“My favorite song was Computer. It was so full of energy and packed with a lot more crazy parts than the other ones.” Sneigowski said.

Similar to Sneigowski, Mendoza said that she loved the songs her band performed with her favorite song being Chameleon.

“We really worked hard on Chameleon. It was kind of an easy song but we did it in two weeks and a lot of people liked it,” Mendoza said.

Rexroat explained that any challenges they faced helped the bands grow, and now the program is doing better than ever. 

“Our program has continued to improve and grow, which has been really awesome and exciting. The quality of each of our jazz bands is also the highest it’s ever been,” Rexroat said.

Hrvatin said that even though the bands encountered some challenges, he was still reminded in the end why the band is important to him.

“The best part is getting to connect with other people that play instruments and just having fun with music,” Hrvatin added.

Kayli Link is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine The Howl

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