‘Everyone was truly just doing something they loved’

The End of the Jazz Ensemble Season


Amoni Alsberry

The CCAHS Jazz Ensemble performing at their last concert.

Anisa Rachman, Reporter and Photo Editor

“There’s something special that forms when you play jazz with others that have the same passion as you do,” said Adonis Fender, a Senior here at CCAHS. As the end of the school year draws near, the curtains have closed for the jazz ensemble group this year. While it’s hard to see the seniors go, many members of the ensemble agree that it has been an interesting and fun experience this year. 

In total, the Jazz Ensemble group has eighteen members with the rhythm section consisting of Tate Schloss on drums, Audrey Rice as the bass player, Adonis Fender as the pianist, Elizabeth Schultz with the guitar, and Sophie Zack on the vibraphone. 

The saxophone section has five members including Matthew Wu and Liliana Schloss on alto, Ryan Humphrey and Amoni Alsberry on tenor, and William Carhoff on the bari. For the trombone section, Fred Schultz and Anisa Rachman on trombone, Dahlia Garcia on the F trigger trombone, and Lance Johnson on the bass trombone. The trumpet section consists of Jackson Schloss, Meara Crozier, Andrew Cartier, and Shane Herring. 

The group played at many local competitions, starting their season off with the State Jazz Festival at Davenport Central High School. As the season progressed they competed at various schools such as the Liberty Jazz Festival at the Liberty High School, Coe Jazz Summit at Coe College, and the SEIBA District Jazz which was hosted by the Clear Creek Amana High School. 

Jazz Ensemble is considered the more competitive band out of the jazz groups here at the CCAHS. Whether it’s to improve improvisation or to just compete against other schools, each member had a different reason as to why they chose to audition for the ensemble. For Junior Audrey Rice, covering the position of bassist was one of her motivations to go out for Jazz Ensemble. 

Being the only person who could play bass after the previous one had graduated, the group looked to her as someone who could fill the role. “As a freshman who wanted a chance to leave my mark on the band, I thought it would be a great opportunity!” Rice voiced. 

Unfortunately, last year the Jazz Ensemble couldn’t get together due to COVID-19; However, Rice took advantage of this break to make improvements. She stated, “It gave me the chance to work on my skill and gain confidence in my instrument, but this year I felt it was time for me to finally compete as a bass player!”

Similar to Rice, Elizabeth Schultz auditioned for the ensemble to get more involved in the band program; but she also believes her siblings made a significant impact on her decision as well. Knowing that both of her siblings were involved in the Jazz Ensemble, she decided to try it out. Schultz expressed, “I wanted to follow in their footsteps and experience the style and culture of jazz music and how to improvise along with spending time with friends at competitions.”

As many know, jazz is a very unique genre and unlike any other form of music. This is likely a factor that draws in so many students to participate in these jazz groups. “I have always found improvisation fun. The biggest part is that everything comes off the top of your head,” Fender voiced. “You have to feel the music in order to be the best improviser that you can be and I feel that I have been able to make that happen in my high school jazz career.”

Many musicians find this genre of music liberating as it gives them the opportunity to discover new things, create something new, and to just go wild. “I would say my favorite part about jazz is the ability to make up something on the fly, and improvise what you think to create a language in a way,” expressed Freshman William Carhoff. 

As Rice puts it, jazz is “an incredible creative outlet” and it inspires musicians to let loose and have fun. “Even when you make the wrong choice, it’s jazz! Make a mistake and say it was purposeful! You’ll be believed!”

After taking a break last year, many members of the band are grateful that the group was back in full swing this year. “I really enjoyed going out and competing against other jazz groups. Listening to their charts was soothing to me, even if the song made me want to get up and boogie,” shared Carhoff. 

Getting the opportunity to play for other people’s enjoyment also made this year gratifying. “Being able to go on the radio to represent CCA was a treat as well!!”, Fender expressed. The Jazz Ensemble got to participate in 88.3 KCCK’s Corridor Jazz project for the first time and recorded a piece titled Mercy, Mercy, Mercy with John Carlson that was aired on the radio. Schultz stated,“It was an honor being able to work with him on jazz music and gain more experience.” Many other members of the Jazz Ensemble felt the same way. 

While it marked the end to the Jazz Ensemble season, Rice believes her favorite part was the final performance, which was held in the CCAHS auditorium (CCA Night of Jazz).“It was so easy to recognize how regardless of how we did this season, everyone was truly just doing something they loved,” Audrey voiced. She also loved performing at the Paramount Theater for the Corridor Jazz Festival. “It was so remarkable just seeing how talented all the other bands there were,” she stated. “It was also such a beautiful stage to perform on, and was an experience I will never forget.”

Waving goodbye to the Seniors is always difficult for many clubs and sports. The Jazz Ensemble will be seeing three seniors off this year: Adonis Fender, Elizabeth Schultz, and Shane Herring. Fender says he will miss everything about the Jazz Ensemble and the people as well. “I enjoyed every second of my time in Jazz Ensemble and I am grateful to Mr. Smith for giving me the opportunity,” he said. 

For Schultz, she believes she will especially miss her sophomore year of Jazz Ensemble and her competition at the SEIBA jazz competition in March of 2020. “I will also miss all of the friends I have made throughout my years In jazz ensemble, and the many different things I have learned about improvising.” She adds, “It has been a wonderful experience playing alto saxophone and guitar the past four years, and I influence anyone considering to audition in the future to go for it!”