A Busy Month For NMS Jazz Students

The Newtown Middle School Jazz Band traveled to New Hampshire on Friday, March 7, to participate in the University of New Hampshire’s Clark Terry Jazz Festival with the Newtown High School Gold and Blue Jazz Bands, kicking off a busy month for jazz students at the middle school.

This was the third year the middle school Jazz Band participated in the festival, and the Blue Band and Gold Band participated in the festival for the second time this year.

The Clark Terry University of New Hampshire Jazz Festival includes high school bands, middle school bands, jazz combos, jazz choirs, as well as solo vocalists, according to the University of New Hampshire.

While at the Clark Terry Jazz Festival, NMS Jazz Band Director Mark Mahoney said the middle school Jazz Band performed John Coltrane’s “Mr P.C.,” “Cut to the Chase” by Larry Barton, “Blue Rondo Ala Turk” by Dave Brubeck, and “Manteca” by Dizzy Gillespie.

When choosing the songs to perform, Mr Mahoney said he was unaware one of the judges at the Clark Terry Jazz Festival would be Terry White, who arranged “Mr P.C.”

“He has lots of nice things to say about the kids,” Mr Mahoney said. He also said when the students learned who one of the judges had been, they were awed.

Mr Mahoney said Mr White also made sure NMS Jazz Band drummer Matt Lundquist received an Outstanding Drummer award for the middle school portion of the festival.

Responses from the judges, according to Mr Mahoney, included an observation that the students were enjoying what they were doing, that the students displayed a great level of confidence and maturity, that the soloists have great stage presence, and “there’s a lot of talent in this band.”

The band also received constructive criticism from the judges that Mr Mahoney said were taken to heart.

On March 19 the NMS Jazz Band performed during a Parents Appreciation Night concert at NMS.

“The Jazz Band performed their New Hampshire set for all of the parents and guests that couldn’t make the trip to New Hampshire,” said Mr Mahoney. “There were a good amount of people there.”

NMS jazz students then participated in the Western Regional Festival at Western Connecticut State University, which was held March 21 to 22. Mr Mahoney said it included bands from the entire western part of Connecticut, and no more than ten students from each participating school could participate in the festival.

Four members of the middle school Jazz Band and five members of the school’s concert band participated in the Western Regional Festival, according to Mr Mahoney.

“They did great,” Mr Mahoney said.

One of Mr Mahoney’s colleagues who attended the festival at Western Connecticut State University also overheard at a director’s meeting for the festival, Mr Mahoney said, that Newtown is “becoming known as the jazz powerhouse of the western part of the state.”

For the festival, Mr Mahoney said guest conductors chose pieces for the participating bands to perform.

 Jazz Band members this year are Grace Sholtes, Matt Dubois, Ryan Brown, Aiden Jasinski, Alexa Tavar, Andrew Buzzi, Jack Bittman, Peter Fagerholm, Ben Tayler, Thomas Hasselberger, Adam Wolf, Bryan Ingwerson, Tim McCarthy, Jimmy Doutney, Nick Harper, Thomas Jenson, Tim White, John Auerbach, Claire Dubois, Jermane Anyoha, Bryce Doherty, Justin Halmose, Jacob Clements, Owen Rohr, David Romano, and Matt Lundquist.

 The NMS Jazz Band will also perform at Ponus Ridge Middle School in Norwalk on Friday, May 16, at that middle school’s Jazz Festival. 

For more information about upcoming Jazz Band events see the Jazz Band’s website, here.

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