Berkeley High Jazz Bands Perform at Freight and Salvage

BY PILAR SHEN-BERRO staff writer

Jazz is a timeless genre of music. It’s a genre that never gets old, and never wears out its welcome. Jazz is an old classic that, despite what many people seem to think, did in fact exist before the movie La La Land came out.Having thorougly cemented itself in the history of music, many students at BHS are both fans and players of all types of jazz.

Recently, BHS put on a jazz show at the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse, a few blocks from BHS. Jazz students from two periods of the jazz band class at BHS performed along with additional duos of players.

The Berkeley High Jazz performance consisted of the two o’clock band and the four o’clock band playing five songs each. There were also a few combos which played in between the two musical demonstrations.

It was quite an impressive show; all of the performers sounded and looked entirely professional. Judging by the sound alone, it would be difficult to tell that they were student performers. It is clear that many of them have reached a level far beyond their years.

It isn’t a secret that BHS students are talented. We are constantly reminded of this as we see plays, musicals, dance shows, and jazz performances. But it’s easy to forget how much work these students put into their crafts. The jazz students practice four days a week, not counting the practice they do at home. Playing music isn’t easy, but they make it look so simple up on stage. In reality many of the artists have played their instruments for several years, often having discovered their musical inclinations when they were children.

The song “Packt Like Sardines” was one of the most unique songs performed during the evening. It was played wonderfully and had a nice beat to it.

Featuring Gabe Wallin on guitar, this arrangement of the Radiohead tune was a new take on a classic rock song, and turned into a stunning jazz performance. It had an array of interesting harmonies that worked well together, and was captivating to see how the sounds blended with each other.

The jazz combos that played were Chocolate Wizards and Smoked Gouda. Both did spectacular jobs, acting as a nice break from the lengthy performances of both bands. Their songs seemed to be lighter and more upbeat, acting as good transitions into the band’s show.

Another intriguing song was “Ateña,” with its upbeat latin percussive rhythms and mesmerizing instrumentals. The blend between the horns reflected the intricate melodies. Accompanied with solos, this tune really showcased the performers talent.

Played by the four o’clock band, this piece was wonderfully executed and got the whole audience to feel the music in their bodies, seeming to resonate with them.

Each song had a few solo’s in it,  and while every solo was very good, some stood out especially.

One solo which left an impression in particular was in the song “Half the fun” by Duke Ellington from the four o’clock band that featured Manni Spicer. He executed his part of the song perfectly on the saxophone. 

The entire song itself had a smooth manner that gave the audience chills.  Another solo that was done very nicely was Sebastian Jeanes in the song “Ateña;” they used their instrument with an impressive expertise that was noticeable during this song.

The next Berkeley High Jazz Band performance is in March in Santa Cruz, and is well worth checking out.

Even if Jazz isn’t your favorite style of music, it’s so beautifully displayed and well done. Not to mention, it’s fun to see your classmates show off their musical talents both inside and outside of the theaters at school.