Jazz Lab band opens new opportunities for musicians


Jazz lab practices their music for upcoming performances. Photo by Emma Russell

Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and other famous jazz musicians all began playing at young ages just like local students have been doing in the Jazz Lab band.

The Jazz Lab band started back in November and consists of various instruments, some of which would not normally be found in traditional jazz ensembles. These instruments include soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, clarinets,  trumpets and trombones along with piano, a string bass and a guitar player.

“Students learn jazz styles, how to play cohesively with a big band and the basics of how to play an improvised jazz solo,” band teacher Todd McCready said.

The band works on various styles of jazz but mainly focuses on swing, funk, rock, and latin styles such as salsa, mambo and bossa nova.

“In this part of our season we are also working on developing our improvisation skills. It takes a lot of confidence and fundamental training to be able to play a solo in a jazz band because you are creating your solo on the spot,” McCready said.

The band recently traveled to Ball State University on March 5, to perform in the “Dimensions in Jazz” festival along with some of the schools other jazz bands and ensembles. The band performed “All In” by Lennie Niehaus, “Big Noise from Winnetka” and a funk-rock chart called “Hit the Bricks” by Gordan Goodwin.

The Jazz Lab band will be performing some preview pieces for Wintertainment on March 16 and the FHS Jazz Cafe on April 15.

The band rehearses after school on Mondays and Wednesdays until 4:45 and is open to any musicians interested in learning more about performing and playing jazz music. To learn more about the band, click here.