Jazz isn’t dead and if you don’t believe it, just look at Barrington High School.
Earlier this month, the school’s jazz ensemble took second place in the L2 Class at the 45th annual Berklee High School Jazz Festival. More than 100 groups and thousands of students representing schools around the region took part in the festival. Groups compete with one another in categories divvied by school. There are also individual awards.
This year’s performance matched Barrington’s best ever showing at the festival. The school has previously finished second, third and fourth in the combo and large ensemble categories.
Barrington finished second to Princeton High School, which regularly wins the category.“Coming in second is a huge honor because we compete against the best programs,” said high school music director Barbara Hughes.
“It’s great to hear what other schools are able to do and to have my students hear what’s possible. R.I. is a small state and it is important for this group to compete regionally and nationally.”
Riley Saeger and Will Casazza both received Outstanding Musician awards. Saeger earned her honor on alto saxophone in the large ensemble category while Casazza was awarded for his work on bass in the combo category.
The ensemble performed Georgia on My Mind, featuring Saeger, In Times Square by Charles Mingus and Rocks in My Bed, by Duke Ellington, featuring vocalist Shir Kantor.
“We have great individual talent this year but more than that we have a group of kids who work very well together and motivate each other. The chemistry is excellent and that is always a huge factor in making music together,” Ms. Hughes said of the group.
All students must audition for acceptance into the jazz ensemble and accordingly, each is capable of performing at a high level. Several of the group’s musicians also excel as soloists including Rob Kellner, piano, Casazza on bass, Frank Carroll, drums, Jacob Greenberg, trumpet, John Rockwell, trombone, Ben Pomerantz, alto sax, Saeger on alto and soprano sax, and William Hemingway on tenor sax
“They listen and copy from the great jazz musicians and seriously study this music. Jazz is not dead!”