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School jazz bands -- let's hear 'em

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Aaron Saunders, Oct 1, 2004.

  1. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    We've all heard the stories of awful high school band leaders, but how about those more fortunate share stories about the people, performances, songs, etc. from GOOD school jazz bands?

    I just joined our school's jazz band this year. I'm one of only two or three new people, so the band overall is pretty tight after a couple practices. The band leader is Greg Runions -- not your typical "I played piano when I was 11, had no passion for anything else, so I became a teacher" kind of music teacher. This man eats, breaths, drinks, and lives music. He's the percussionist in the Kingston Symphony, also leads the Queen's University jazz band (and teaches there part time in addition to my school part time), and is a regularly gigging musician in addition to leading his own big band, which has a fully produced and available CD (which I possess, and is amazing).

    Our drummer is phenomenal. I've jammed with him several times outside of jazz band this year, the guy's stellar. He's my age (a couple months older, actually -- 17 years old) and recently got a call for the drumming position in a big band in Kingston. I found out today he didn't get the gig, which is a damn shame, 'cause he's great (but there's always someone better, ne?). We've got this pianist -- Cavan -- who's absolutely great. He, the drummer, Greg, and the former bassist for the jazz band (Evan Wise, great guy, really good bassist) had this jazz quartet last year and I've got my fingers crossed we're gonna do something similar this year.

    Right now, we're doing Minnie the Moocher, and we started Sing, Sing, Sing this past Wednesday as well as Babatunde Olantunji - The Beat of My Drum. The first two are awesome songs, but...ohhhh maaaan. When everyone else got the music for the Beat of My Drum (we did it in class) I started to pull mine out and play it...and he turned to me and said "do something funky around a C minor". It's so fun -- plus it's probably about the only song we're going to be doing where I can really lay out and whip out some chops. I know soon we're gonna start Straight, No Chaser as well as Moondance, and Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues. Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues is a little farther off, it's...well, "interesting" to learn (read: hard). Jump, Jive, and Wail, I'm Checking Out (Goombye), and Oye Como Va are all on the future schedule as well.

    Other people in the band worthy of note, but this post is getting way too long -- great singer, trumpeter, trombones, and saxes.
  2. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    We haven't gotten to the our well-our good/fun charts yet. Right now, we're mainly in the easier tunes to help tighten the band up and to prepare us for the first few gigs. E.g. we're playing a senior fair, doing a concert with FE Band and the Choir [note-FE Band is made up of essentially jazz band members], and then just a few not so well-big, concerts.

    Last year-we had what i considered a power year. We did Malaguena, Peanut Vendor, Straight No Chaser, El Gatote, Go Down Gamblin, Slammin, Slambo, Soul Vaccination, and lots of others. Last year-we had a guitarist too who was a pretty good soloist so the BG tunes let me stretch out a bit.

    This year-we've got a few new people. Piano player is new, a few new saxes....last year our bari sax player died in a car wreck. [i got an old thread about that], 1 new trumpet [several graduated], and 1 new bone player. The drummer and I have been the core of nearly all the bands at jeff for the past few years [sophmore year he was in Jazz/FE/etc-i was in 'em all freshman year]. We're pretty tight. Sophmore year we got comments about "the drummer and the bassist need to live together over the summer or something" to last year [junior year] we were told by several show choir judges [hey some of them do know stuff] along with several jazz judges that we were the tightest bass/drums they've heard all day when we were the last band playing. :)

    That's all
  3. Former bandleader - http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=140265
    (I wrote this thread while my brain was still being attacked by gig endorphins)

    I was in the jazz band for two years until we had a disagreement and he kicked me out. I deserved it.

    We still play together for stuff he puts together for assemblies and stuff - it's the only time we're really civil to each other any more. You could say he's Buddy Rich's younger twin brother: fantastic drummer, but bitches out his musicians.

    As for the band, it was cool - drums (Pat), bass (me), piano, trumpet, alto sax, bari sax. Vocals on occasion. We played:

    - Mercy Mercy Mercy
    - River Deep Mountain High
    - S'Wonderful
    - Moonglow
    - Take Five
    - Straighten Up & Fly Right
    - Fever
    - ... and maybe more, but I forget.

    I would have loved to play stuff like "Cubano Chant", "Birdland", "April In Paris", "Bouncin' With Bud", stuff like that. Unfortunately he said they would have been too hard for the rest of the band.

    I just think he thought I was telling him what to do. :spit:
  4. Brad Barker

    Brad Barker

    Apr 13, 2001
    berkeley, ca
    i joined the high school jazz band when i was a freshman and continued through junior year.

    freshman year: at first i was really, really, REALLY intimidated. it seemed to me like everyone was REALLY good. i stuck with it, though, and got pretty good as sight reading. we played lots of gigs for elderly people and some events and stuff. we made it to a state competition, too.

    sophomore year: switched band directors. we didn't play very many shows. we didn't make it to states. it was the last year for our extremely good drummer and saxophonist.

    junior year: switched band director again. we tried to play music like...three times. the whole year.

    senior year: wasn't in the class. band director tried to schedule jazz band rehearsals after school. there was only one.

    the end.
  5. I played in school Jazz band in England, we were really good played in a national competition called Music for Youth held in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, we won five golds and one silver over six years, we also entered the World Music Championship in Kerkrade in Holland in 2001 and went and won a gold award there too!!!!!!!!! :hyper: Not bad

    We.ve also played at the Royal Symphony hall twice and the Royal Albert hall twice, two very big swanky concert halls!!!

    I have since left and played in several Jazz comboc with my Wilkes custom fretless bass, which I know nothing about but if anyone has heard of a bass maker by the name of WILKES, then an email would be lovely, all I know is he was British and the bass I have used to be fretted!