Congrats! Jazz band excels at jazz festival

The Cedar Falls jazz bands took the stage on Saturday, performing two impressive sets and earning a Division I rating for both groups at the IHSMA Jazz Festival in Hudson. Each band had the chance to clinic with former West High School band director Steve Citta after playing.

Jazz, Too! played a well-rounded set early in the afternoon, including jazz standard “Stolen Moments.” Their set boasted many soloists, impressing the judges.
Jazz One played a tribute to the legendary jazz pianist Duke Ellington, mixing smoky Latin elements with some of Ellington’s big band works. Their musicianship earned them a well-deserved standing ovation.

With the long hours of hard work and dedication each and every band member has contributed, it is easy to see why band instructor Mr. Engelhardt can be heard bragging about what he is assured is the best jazz band in the history of Cedar Falls High School. It takes a certain group to accomplish something as special as this, and it would be impossible without the leadership of many seniors who’ve been invested in this band for several years. Senior Josh Carlo has been in jazz band since sixth grade and acknowledges this year is the best the band has ever been.

“We just got better through understanding how we play together and getting music that matches us. I love being a part of a group where everyone is willing to give up many, many hours to make music,” Carlo said. Thanks to jazz band, he testifies having learned many valuable lessons. By repeatedly putting himself out there on stage, Carlo has not only learned to capture an audience by his compelling notes, but to become comfortable in front of them, making his audience feel as happy and relaxed as he looks while playing. “I used to be nervous to solo, but through practice I’ve really improved,” Carlo said.

Carlo’s fellow musician senior Ryan Ehrhardt has also been a member of the jazz band since sixth grade. The friends he has met along the way have become much more than people to jam and joke with. “It’s a great group of people, They are like a family to me,” Ehrhardt said. According to him, the improvement the jazz band has seen this year can be chalked up to the dedication to the group and the “plain raw talent.” Ehrhardt was nervous for his solo at the festival. “The way I handle it the best is I just think of happy thoughts and remember it’s just another performance,” Ehrhardt said.

Other soloists that graced the crowd last weekend include: juniors Jack Sannes, Alex Prophet and Brennan Ashwood and seniors Ann Fienup, Luke Zahari and Caleb Vander Wiel.

In Ehrhardt’s words, “the band this year is exceptional.” We hear your hard work resonating in the halls. The beautiful sounds earn a well-deserved congratulations.

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