ETHS Jazz Showcase highlights commitment, final pieces


After two years of limited, twenty-five student concerts, the Jazz Showcase is returning as a full band show on Tuesday, April 26, in the auditorium. The concert will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m., with free admission. The jazz band consists of three groups: the introductory Lab Band, the intermediate Jazz 2 and the Advanced Jazz Ensemble. These bands are led by Haley Sullivan, Peter Roothan and Matthew Bufis, respectively. Getting to this concert was not easy though, especially through the pandemic. 

“Jazz, for the last two years, became seasonal because we had to play outside, but everybody really persevered through that,” Sullivan says. “Everybody stayed committed and it was really remarkable that they stuck with it.” Due to social distancing rules and mask mandates, it became very hard to play instruments in a group. The band was only allowed limited concerts, splitting the groups into smaller divisions of twenty five students. They practiced for hours at a time outside the school, on the corner of Lake and Dodge. Their rehearsals were precarious as the weather turned near the end of fall. They had to base the schedules on daylight hours, temperatures and precipitation forecasts. In spite of these obstacles, they were able to come back into the swing of things this year, as the first auditions happened in the fall.

“We picked up right where we left off, it really felt like we didn’t even miss a beat,” Sullivan says of the shift back to in-person school. 

Since August they have been rehearsing every other morning and putting on a concert every quarter. This hard work and improvement will all culminate here in the showcase. 

“Hearing the growth is my favorite part of the final concert,” Sullivan says. 

Unlike sports that are typically one season, band lasts the entire school year, providing the players lots of room to improve and explore new techniques. This final concert will showcase a wide variety of songs, such as swing, latin and even rock. For many students, it’s their first experience with songs of certain genres, and learning these new songs only pushes them further in the progression of their skills.

“The students who are in the lab band, for some of them, this is their first jazz experience. For some, it’s [also] the first rock style they play, so I’m really excited for that”, Sullivan says. 

These new opportunities are heavily reflected in the setlist of the three groups. The songs span many decades and styles, and will give the audience a spectacular overview of the skills the players possess. For their performance, the Lab Band will play four tunes, including the masterful ‘Moment’s Notice’ by John Coltrane (Arr. Taylor). Following the Lab Band, Jazz 2 will feature five songs, such as the elegant ‘Girl from Ipanema’ by Antonio Jobim (Arr. Taylor), among others. Finally, as the premiere group, the Ensemble will perform eight songs, the dazzling ‘Tour De Force’ by Dizzy Gillespie (Arr. Taylor) being one of them. 

While the concert marks the end of the year for the groups,, it also serves as a reminder of how the players grew very close after working together. 

“People develop friendships throughout those groups”, Sullivan adds. “They play together, the camaraderie in those groups is awesome,”

Early morning rehearsals throughout the year aren’t easy, but they only strengthen the bonds formed between them. This hard work only amplifies the collaboration needed to work so seamlessly as a group, providing a great foundation for the concert. The showcase is also significant for another reason, as the school year comes to an end.

“[The showcase] is really special for our seniors. It’s their final performance at ETHS in the jazz program,” says Sullivan. 

Although a more traditional senior night was done at the band concert, this is a different, more emotional moment. Many of the band members have played since their freshman year, making this a bittersweet event as they say goodbye. Finishing something of this scale is never easy, but this grand finale will be a good note to end on.