Setting the tone


Brooke McKelvey

The top jazz band performs at the Three Rivers League Jazz Festival, where they took first place.

After graduating 11 seniors last year, returning Jazz Band members were ready to take time to incorporate new members and show them the ropes. A new outlook on their year formed, however, when the band finished first at the Three Rivers League Jazz Festival.

“We are still getting used to each other, but our sound is really taking shape,” Hannah Burk, junior, said.

Burk is one of four new additions that make up this year’s five person trumpet section. New faces of this quantity can be found among all of the sections, and the band as a whole knows there is work to be done, but starting off the year with a first place win helps them to relieve a little stress.

“We were a little uptight about being the first band to perform [at the festival],” Cameron Craig, junior, said, “but at the same time we had had our songs for awhile.”

The band’s winning lineup was composed of “The Queen Bee,” “Penthouse Dawn” and “Gingerbread Boy.” There were points throughout their performance that the judges deemed areas for improvement, but they are all manageable in the eyes of the band.

“[We need to work on] listening to lead players, clearing up our articulation and making sure we have a better balance,” Craig said.

Since the band took first at league, they automatically qualify for the University of Oregon Jazz Festival, which isn’t until Jan. 27. This gives them plenty of time to work out their ensemble sound.

“We will get new, harder songs and continue to grow as a band,” Burk said.

For now, the band is happy with their win, for they finished first by a sizable margin. They placed about 30 points higher than their runner-up, and just over 80 points above the third place band. For most of the new members, the festival was a little nerve-wracking, especially with the crowd of students and staff that came to the auditorium in support.

“It was great to see all the support. It made me a little nervous to play in front of everyone, but I think [we] played well,” Burk said.

The band hopes to continue improving and growing from here, but they all agree that they have started off on the right foot.