East jazz program lights up PAC with Winter Concert

Jazz Ensemble performs one of their competition-winning songs. “We put a lot of work into what we do, I’m glad this concert went so well,” Senior Sean Elliot said. Photo courtesy of OEHS Band Boosters.

East’s Jazz program, made up of Big Band, Jazz Band, Jazz Ensemble, and Jazz Combo, filled the PAC with sound last Wednesday, February 8.

The concert is one of four that take place over the course of the school year, showcasing each group’s musical growth as individuals and as an ensemble.

Freshman alto saxophonist Hayden Mulacek said he felt excited to show his peers, parents, and directors all that he’s learned.

“As a freshman, there is obviously still going to be a lot of room for growth for me, but I’m proud of how much I’ve progressed thus far,” Mulacek said. “Especially during my solo, I got really excited because of how well it went. I wasn’t nervous at all.”

The winter concert comes after Jazz Ensemble, the program’s top band, performed and took home first place at the Purdue Jazz Festival in West Lafayette. 

Junior saxophonist Elias Castaneda said winning at Purdue made the band stronger, and affirmed their confidence in their abilities.

“We knew before Purdue that we had a lot of talented people, and a good grip on the music as a whole,” Castaneda said. “But getting first place made me feel so happy, like all our hard work had paid off.”

This concert also featured the Jazz Combo group, a small, student-led band of about ten students who exhibited a desire to play more, and to perform without the help of a director.

Senior Sean Elliot said that he was very impressed with how well Jazz Combo’s performance went, and that he enjoyed feeling the music with some of his closest friends and classmates.

“Jazz Combo is a lot of fun for us, I think that it allows us to show the love we have for music and playing with one another,” Elliot said. “I can’t wait to do more with them, and maybe perform at some outside of school gigs.”

Band director Stevan Rexroat said that extra opportunities like playing at festivals and invitational gigs allows for jazz to be more present in a student’s day to day.

“Playing at places like [Purdue and Waubonsee Community College] makes it more real for all our students,” Rexroat said. “We love it when people get excited about being in jazz band.”

East’s band program’s spring concert will be on February 28 for Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble, and March 1 for both freshman bands and Wind Symphony. Both concerts will be in the PAC.

Kelsey Gara is a staff editor for Oswego East’s online news magazine, the Howl

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