Jazz Bands host concert with guest Willie Murillo

Advanced and Intermediate Jazz Bands performed Thursday, Jan. 28 in the Performing Arts Center (PAC). The performance, called “Swinging in the New Year,” featured guest trumpet player Willie Murillo.

“We bring in guest players as often as possible because it’s entertaining for the audience to hear what professional sounding players are like and because the students get really inspired [for] being able to play with someone like that,” Intermediate Jazz Band Director Corey Wicks said.

The concert showcased classical jazz, Latin and fusion songs, such as “Put on a Happy Face” by Charles Strouse, “Comin’ Home Baby” by Ben Tucker and the theme from “Car Wash.”

“The songs we choose are usually related to the guest player that we invite to come. When we have a guest player or conductor, the group feels more pressure to practice and perform well,” Advanced Jazz Band Director Buddy Clements said. “I really think that our program has blossomed the past couple of years, and when famous people come and see how great the kids are, they talk about them. It really helps us establish how far we’ve come.”

In preparation, the two groups began rehearsing in December and continued to fine tune songs until the date of the performance, such as running through and timing pieces.

“When we perform, we know that the directors have really high standards, so we have to make sure we practice enough,” drumset player junior Phoebe Lin said. “The little things begin to make the differences, like keeping up tempo and having dynamics.”

This is the first year that certain wind instruments, including the flute and clarinet, were featured. These deviate from the normal brass and saxophone instruments.

“This performance has been a thrill for me. I think music education is so important, and I realize it takes a lot for students to do this. They are in fantastic hands; these directors are really first-rate educators,” Murillo said.

For some aspiring musicians, having a role model to look up to can be more relatable, as Murillo could understand the beginning stages of developing musicianship.

“It’s nice having a professional come and play with us because it shows us how music can be a real career,” trombone player junior Mckenzie Swift Ramirez said. “They sound really good, and we know that’s because they’ve been playing for years. It kind of shows us how good we can be, even if right now it’s just high school.”

By Brian Chen, Staff writer
Photo by Sajid Iqbal