Behind the scenes of jazz music

By: Ava Mandele, Reporter

For decades, jazz has been a popular form of music played in all parts of the country including Kaneland High School, where the Jazz Band takes their own part in culture.

Jazz is a genre of music that originated in African American communities during the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century, however it is still played today. The main goal of the Jazz Band at Kaneland is to replicate the authentic jazz sound and performance manner.

“I try to provide the most authentic jazz experience possible for the band members,” Jazz Band Adviser Aaron Puckett said.

In order to replicate that signature sound, the band blends multiple sounds together using different instruments such as saxophones and basses. These types of instruments are also used in regular bands; however, the jazz band uses more brass instruments.

“It is one thing to be able to play an instrument, but to be able to blend sounds and work together takes dedication,” junior Anthony Romano said.

Along with different music and sounds, the average jazz band is smaller than a regular band. The Kaneland Jazz Band has been on the small side, even until recently.

Since the change from block schedule to the eight period schedule, the jazz program has seen a major increase in student involvement. Since the change, the program has added three classes during the school day and two after school programs, both with 17-25 students involved.

“Since the scheduled changed, the jazz band has grown and thrived,” Puckett said.

Another way the band replicates the signature jazz sound is by improvising during different parts in the songs. This allows members creative freedom and helps them learn how to play off each other.

“Jazz isn’t just something you pick up and play, you feel it inside of you,” freshman Jordan Bridge said.

The band commonly plays different types of jazz such as blues and swing, as well as songs from many classic jazz artists like Charles Mingus.

Kaneland’s Jazz Band performs at the highest music level in the state. The band doesn’t compete much during the year; when they do, it can be competitive. Puckett, however, doesn’t like to focus on the competitive aspect of art and music.

“Art isn’t a sport, so it is weird to say competitive art is more of a learning experience,” Puckett said.

On average, the band has around 4-5 performances a year. This year the band has performed at the House Cafe in DeKalb, KHS for a special concert,  University Illinois-Chicago and the winter school assembly. When planning for performances or competitions, the adviser looks for competitions and performances that offer the members an authentic jazz learning experience.

“I always look for a festival that has more to offer to band members than judges,” Puckett said.

The jazz band is planning on having one more performance before the end of the year at the House Cafe in May.

“The House Cafe in DeKalb is a great venue,” Puckett said.