Noteworthy Jazz Band Plays With Its Soul


Photo by Annie Qiao

Freshman and lead alto saxophone Kevin Du warms up for first period jazz band with the song “Bluestart.”

Ava Caleca and Shawyan Rooein

Jazz Band here at Portola is a unique musical class that takes what is written on sheet music and shapes their songs into stories with melodies. There are various forms of jazz that musicians can play such as funk and Latin rock. Musicians in jazz band are also given the freedom to use their own style of improvisation.

Unique instruments like the saxophone can include their own melodies in the music. Certain instruments in Jazz have their own melodies that contributes to the showcase of songs performed. Although solo opportunities are present in Jazz Band, the instruments are also able to blend together to create an engaging sound for the audience.

Different from other ensembles such as orchestra, Jazz Band plays a variety of upbeat music that originally emerged in the early 20th century. It was and still is characterized by improvisation and an immersive rhythm.

Jazz Band musicians are given the opportunity to use their own styles instead of performing exactly what is written on sheet music. It also allows students to become creative with their music and express themselves immensely.

“With jazz, there’s only one person on a part, and also there are opportunities for improvisation, so with other music that we play here everything is written down on the page, and our goal as musicians is to interpret and play that exactly as it’s written,” Visual and Performing Arts chair Desmond Stevens said.

Significant instruments in Jazz Band are the trumpets and the trombones. The trumpets carry the melodies in songs, while the trombone incorporates various techniques into music, such as growling, scooping, falling and flutter tongue. All of these instruments added together is what makes Jazz Band such a diverse, unique, and fun genre of music to listen to.