On Feb 18, the Delaware Valley Jazz Band competed at the preliminary round of the Steel Stacks High School Jazz Band Showcase. The jazz band received an “excellent” rating along with the “Best Trumpet Section” award. Junior Theo Bookey earned the “Best Jazz Brass Soloist” award.
The jazz band missed earning a superior rating by two points, which would have brought them to the finals round on March 11.
“We got what we earned,” said jazz band director Mr. Joseph Borell. “We’ll work harder to strive for the superior rating next year… I am extremely proud of their performance. They performed at the highest level in the school’s history in my opinion.”
The jazz band competed against five other schools, two of which also received an “excellent” rating. The other three schools received “superior” ratings and will move onto the finals round in March.
The first song the jazz band played was “Bugle Call Rag” arranged by Bill Holman. The song featured soloists senior Paxton Mentnech on drumset, Bookey on trumpet and freshman Danny Zhivkovich on tenor saxophone.
“Bugle Call Rag” was followed by “Samantha” composed by Sammy Nestico, the jazz band’s ballad. “Samantha” featured senior Alex Coelho on alto saxophone.
The final song the jazz band performed was “Malagueña” arranged by Bill Holman. The song featured soloists junior Ashton Forichon on trombone and Zhivkovich on tenor saxophone. A mellophone section and a bass saxophone were also added for this song.
Mr. Borell chose these songs to show the contrast in the different styles that the jazz band can play along with their different strengths. In this competition, the judges are generally looking for one swing song, one ballad and one song of a different genre like latin or funk.The group has been practicing for the competition since November.
The judges rated the bands based on their style, intonation (how in tune the band is), articulation (how a note is played) and improv ability.
According to Mr. Borell, the jazz band’s strong points were their sense of style, intonation and their ability to be precise with their rhythms. The weak points they’ll be working on for next year are their articulation and their ability to listen to each other and adjust. “I’m glad we won so many awards,” said Coelho. “There’s a lot of room for improvement, and I wish I could be here for it [next year]. I am happy with where we are.”