ETHS’ 18th annual Jazz Fest celebrates genre

On Saturday, Feb. 12, ETHS hosted their 18th annual Jazz Festival, a multi-school event all about the great genre of Jazz. There was a professional daytime band and a later nighttime event that posed as a great opportunity for students to learn from and experience the music of professionals firsthand. 

Chris Green, an ETHS alum, performed during the daytime. Green is a professional musician who brought his own quartet to play for the many students who attended the festival. His noontime concert was an opportunity for the ETHS students to see his group perform while having a break in between their own sets. 

 Orbert Davis performed at night. Davis is a conductor of the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, and he brings his Black identity into his music by discussing The Great Migration. 

“He’s going to give a lecture with his bandmates. They’ll model and demonstrate some things, answer questions, and pose some questions to the students that [attended to] just engage them in what the concert is going to be about and how he was inspired to write the piece,” Jazz Band director Matthew Bufis said in the lead-up to the performance. 

Along with the many performances, students were able to attend small clinics where they had the opportunity to learn about improv, tuning and many more qualities designed to improve their musical skills. This was a perfect time for beginner, intermediate and expert musicians to learn together.

While all students can really benefit from participating in Jazz bands and other bands that ETHS offers, Bufis recommended jazz specifically because of its rich history and the many creative aspects of the genre.

“Students can create their own arrangements, they can add their own harmonies and they can tell their own story through their improvised solo,” Bufis explained. 

ETHS was unable to have the Jazz Festival last year due to COVID-19, but the program resumed this year with certain accommodations. 

“We have to wear playing masks and bell covers [for COVID reasons]. But, overall, we’re still able to get a lot of practice,” sophomore Mitchell Fabri says. 

Bufis thinks the Jazz Fest is still a success, in spite of the pandemic.

“This is the second largest festival we’ve had, which is cool coming off of COVID,” Bufis says. “I thought [our numbers] would be down, but [they’re] actually way up.” Because of this increase in turnout, ETHS hired retired high school band directors to make up six out of the 10 evaluating positions.

 “Not to say that the collegiate people wouldn’t have done a great job,” Bufis says. “But I think there is something to be said about being a high school director and going to a festival where that person who’s going to be working with your students has an understanding of what it’s like coming off of last year.”