First-Ever Jazz Night? No Treble


William Hsieh

As the finale of the concert, freshman Garrett Lee showcases his saxophone skills in musicality and improvisation with the jazz classic “Mambo Inn,” a song highlighting two unique instruments: timbales and congas.

Julia Kim and Tiffany Wu

Flowers and dim candles adorned the tables, and swaying blues filled the air on April 20 as jazz musicians showcased a preview of their hard work and their trip to Reno on April 25-28.

Jazz II Combo, a select group consisting of sophomores Johnny Fowler, Daniel Han, Justin Kim and Edison Ta and freshmen David Lee and Ashley Wang, welcomed the guests.

Following Combo’s three melodious songs, Jazz II director Desmond Stevens introduced the rest of the Jazz II musicians, who concluded the performance with “Caravan,” the famous Duke Ellington and John Sweeney song.

As soft blues crooned from speakers in the background, giving Jazz 1 time to set up on stage, Stevens gave guests a chance to enjoy free concessions. Unlike previous groups, Jazz I pieces carried the distinct thrum of the congas and the tinkling notes of the marimba from freshman Salomon Sepulveda and juniors Yunseong Jung and Simrat Singh.

“It felt really cool to perform at the Jazz Night because it wasn’t like a normal concert. People didn’t have to sit there in a seat and watch idly the whole time; they were able to get snacks and talk quietly if they wanted,” freshman Chloe Moon said. “Since we don’t perform a lot, we try to make our performances the best that we can. I was excited to do well, especially because it was my first time performing my solo.”

While Jazz I Director Kyle Traska originally proposed the all-jazz concert, students ultimately helped create the event.

“The idea is that students are in charge of planning, booking and recruiting for the event, which is a real-world experience,” Traksa said. “Once you’re done in high school and college, no one makes a gig for you – you have to make your gig.”

Last weekend, Jazz I Combo and Jazz II competed at the Reno Jazz Festival, one of the largest jazz festivals in the country.

“I’ve never been on a field trip with my band before, so it’ll be really cool and fun,” freshman Cinta Adhiningrat said, in anticipation of the festival. “I’m looking forward to being able to see how other schools are when compared to us, because I want to know how other jazz programs are doing and just that whole culture of jazz.”

The Reno Jazz Festival features unique opportunities for musicians to celebrate jazz culture through competitions, clinics, workshops and masterclasses with professionals.

“I don’t care about the competition; I don’t care about the adjudicator’s scores. I’m looking forward to the students getting feedback from another professional set of ears that isn’t myself or Mr. Stevens,” Traska said. “The camaraderie that is built and the unifying goal that we want to have a great performance all adds to an awesome experience.”