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WSU and all that jazz

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A trumpet used in jazz performances

Weber State University’s Jazz Ensemble came together to perform seven jazz compositions at this year’s Jazz Review. The performance was held on Feb. 10 in the Allred Theater.

The Jazz Review was first put together by Dan Jonas, director of WSU jazz studies, eight years ago. It is an all-day event that gives local high school jazz bands, as well as WSU’s Jazz Ensemble, the opportunity to play.

The high school bands’ concerts are a performance clinic, where the bands can get feedback from different professional musicians. This helps the bands better prepare for the upcoming high school jazz festivals that happen throughout March.

This year’s jazz bands from Ogden High School, Ben Lomond High School, Syracuse High School and Provo High School came to perform throughout the day. Jonas explained that the amount of high school bands that attend varies from year to year.

This year, the bands started playing at 10:20 a.m. and the final performance was at 3:40 p.m. WSU’s Jazz Ensemble closed out the evening and took the stage at 7:30 p.m.

Every year Jonas makes an effort to have a guest musician come work with the high school students and play with Weber’s Jazz Ensemble.

This year Andrew Wheelock, drummer, composer, percussionist and director of jazz studies at the University of Wyoming, made his way down to Ogden to play with Weber State. Wheelock played in five of the seven pieces performed.

In previous editions of the Jazz Review, Jonas has brought a trumpeter, pianist, saxophonist and more. This year’s highlight was drums and other percussion. Jonas varies the guest musicians so that high school and college students can hear and play different perspectives of music.

“For me, it’s very important that the guest artist I bring in is a good educator in addition to being a good performer,” Jonas said.

Jonas said that as a student, he experienced a lot of great musicians at jazz festivals who were not necessarily great educators. His goal is for someone, who is a great educator, to work with high school and college students.

The guest artists are given the chance to perform the pieces that they want in the Jazz Review. Wheelock brought many of his own pieces for the ensemble to play.

The ensemble first began rehearsals for this year’s Jazz Review in November of 2023.

WSU’s Jazz Ensemble counts as an elective for music majors but is not a required ensemble.
Jonas explained that many students join the Ensemble for fun regardless of their major. The effort and time the students dedicate to the music is a true testament to how much the students love the music. This dedication is something that Jonas is proud of.

“A lot of the music he is having the band play is introducing our college students to some different styles and sounds,” Jonas said.

“I Knew You” is the title of Jonas’ favorite piece played that night. The piece is more contemporary. It uses a unique time signature and approach to harmony that Jonas finds thoughtful and well-composed.

Wheelock is in agreement with Jonas. His favorite piece the ensemble performed was also “I Knew You.”

“I really liked the way that the band played ‘I Knew You,’” Wheelock said. “They made some musical choices that were really nice.”

Wheelock said that when it comes to composing a piece of music, he often hears rhythm as a melody. Some pieces come from a percussion part or a bass part and others develop from hearing a melody within rhythm.

“The students here work really hard and are a great community which is important when it comes to making music,” Wheelock said.

The Jazz Ensemble has a spring performance quickly approaching on April 9 in the Allred Theater.

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Cooper Hatsis, Culture reporter

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