Jazz Band Takes on Sam Houston Jazz Festival

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Maddie Porter

The 61st annual Jazz Festival on March 30 at Sam Houston State University is an event to which high school and college bands perform throughout 30 minute intervals during the day, and after a performance, they receive critique sheets from each of the renowned jazz educators judging their performance.

Participants are highly encouraged to sit and listen to other performances from at least two different participants. This festival is intended to furnish jazz bands around the state of Texas with valuable listening opportunities for young musicians propelling them to improve their skills and continue with their music study and career. This was Tompkins’ first year where both the jazz ensemble and band performed for the Sam Houston Jazz Festival.

“My hope for the jazz band and ensemble is that they play well and enjoy playing as well as listening to some good music to get a good idea of what a professional jazz band sounds like,” said jazz band director Cherwink.

Both the jazz band and ensemble have been working tirelessly all semester on preparing different pieces for this performance. The jazz band began rehearsing the second week of January, and the jazz ensemble started back in late November They have not only been practicing the music they will be performing at Sam Houston, but they have been circulating among about 30 different pieces of music for future performances. For the jazz ensemble, some weeks they may not even get to practice as a group on the music for the jazz festival, but they are still expected to practice separately on the many pieces of music they receive.

“For this specific performance, the music we play varies because the jazz ensemble learns about 30 to 40 pieces of music in a semester, and then, we select three of the better pieces we can play to play at the festival. The jazz band has been working specifically on this performance music since January,” said Cherwink.

This performance is one of many that can be very significant in a young musician’s skill and maturity development. Through listening to professional bands perform, it gives a young musician a better idea of what jazz music sounds like when performing professionally.”

“Performing at the festival is a cool experience for students to understand how to prepare music, hear how other student groups play and to get an idea of what other bands sound like. It is also a good opportunity for them to get good tips on how to be a better jazz musician overall and listen to professionals perform to get a better idea on how jazz is supposed to sound,” said Cherwink.

The jazz band will be having a performance in the main commons of Tompkins High School, April 5 at 7 p.m. There will be food and drinks for the audience, and the jazz band, as well as the ensemble, will be performing their pieces from the Sam Houston Jazz Festival as well as pieces they did not perform. Do not miss the chance to see the Tompkins Jazz program perform what they have been rehearsing for three months, and a chance to eat good crawfish.