While Just Jazz may be another event caught in the flurry of all the great things happening towards the end of every school year, it’s a great concert to have fun and enjoy yourself. It features performances by Jazz I and Jazz II, who play everything from classic jazz standards to the recognizable rock tunes of today.


This year’s Just Jazz concert was held on May 18th in the concert hall with a reception following the live music. It is a celebration of the progress made by students in jazz throughout the course of the year, but also a laid back night to appreciate the elements of jazz music itself.


The concert began with a chart called “Big Noise from Winnetka”, which was performed by both jazz groups combined. After alternating the spotlight between Jazz I and II for several songs, the event closed with a medley of old Chicago tunes. So many different styles of music were played throughout the night; jazz is more diverse than many believe.


Not only is it a great night for audience members – musicians in jazz are able to culminate all of their learning and celebrate the year with a remarkable ending to “jazz season” (and for seniors, their high school jazz career).


A current saxophonist in Jazz II, Abby Boone, weighs in on how jazz music has influenced her personally.


“I prefer jazz over concert band music because you get to improvise and do what you want to do, instead of having to just play what is written in the part. In jazz, you get to add a lot of your own style,” Boone said.


According to “Jazz”, a film by Ken Burns, “Jazz has been called the purest expression of American democracy, a music built on individualism and compromise, independence and cooperation.”


Not only is it a freeing form of expression, the study of jazz music in schools offers an exploration into conversations about our country’s social and political history.


“Jazz is our American music and deserves a place at the core of our music curriculum. It is freeing and should be something students experience as part of their music education. Improvisation is to me the highest form of musical expression. When someone can communicate feelings musically they not only have a command of their instrument but also a command of their feelings,” Kimberly McCord, Associate Professor and Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Education at Illinois St. University says.

Studying jazz music in school is such a powerful thing – individually and culturally – and evokes an emotional response from those who choose to listen.

If you happened to miss this year’s concert, be sure to check out Just Jazz 2019!


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