Whether it’s hard-hitting rhythms to lighten up the atmosphere or mellow tunes to serenade its listeners, jazz music has always been a classic and a favorite to a variety of people from all over the world for decades. Its soulful melody, as well as experiments with improvisation, make this music genre a loved one.
Luckily, we have incredibly talented students here at KIS to bring proper justice to jazz music. And they all come together to show off their talent, (or in the case of Masayoshi Sakakura (‘16), a lot of talents) on one very special, very entertaining, very amazing evening: Jazz Night.
This acclaimed event at KIS was first introduced by a KIS favorite: Mr. Jay Londgren, who was the band teacher at our school until last year. Four years ago, Mr. Londgren put together some of the best musicians our Band had to offer, and thus, Jazz Night was born. The first event was a total hit, and the night has become an annual occasion since.
But what is jazz, really?
“Jazz is intangible. You can only feel it with your sincere soul.” – Hyunjae Moon (‘16)
“There are two major art reformations: the Renaissance, and the Jazz Age. So come to Jazz Night!” – Terry Lee (‘16)
“If you have to ask what it is, you’ll never know.” – Louis Armstrong
But that doesn’t really tell us what Jazz Night is all about. So Blueprint approached Peter Kim (‘15), an officer of Tri-M and one of the organizers and performers of this event, to see if he could tell us more.
Blueprint (BP): How did this all start?
Peter Kim (PK): In my freshman year, under the guidance of Mr. Londgren, that year was when the Phoenix Jazz Band first formed.
BP: How was the first event? And how has it developed over the years?
PK: I think the history of ticket sales would put the development of jazz night in context. It took 3 weeks for the tickets to sell out in the first year, 4 days in the second year, 8 hours in the third year, and 4 hours this year. As all events and organizations go, it was difficult to set precedence, structure and procedure. There weren’t a lot of students comfortable with improvising, and the genre of jazz itself was new to a lot of the students in the band. The program grew a lot more complex over the years, as we added different sub-genres of jazz and various instrumentations (ensembles) into the performance.
BP: What’s different/significant about this event from the past events?
PK: I think the absence of Mr. Londgren would set this event apart from previous ones. I don’t think I can deny the fact that there have been struggles in the preparation due to the transferring of responsibility from him to Tri-M. We’re experimenting with different things this year too. We’re investing a lot in decoration, to build a jazzy, cool atmosphere. This year, Tri-M is trying to provide a holistic experience where they can really immerse in jazz from the entrance of the G-building to the musical content to the ending of the show.
BP: How much time and effort have gone into making the event possible?
PK: The bands have been practicing since August, and Tri-M and the music department have been working since December. Hours and hours of work of the officers and the Tri-M members made this event possible. Since the target audience is mainly adults, (parents, faculty, and even board members) Tri-M had to approach the event from a different perspective. More emphasis on the quality of food and atmosphere was taken into consideration.
BP: Is there anything special you’re looking forward to?
PK: Not from a Tri-M officer’s viewpoint, but from a performer’s viewpoint, I think this year’s Jazz Night is much more special to me. Probably for the other seniors too. We’ve been playing together in band since 7th grade, and playing in a jazz band since 9th grade. It’s a bit weird to think that it’ll probably be our last gig that we’re playing together as a band. I want to put everything I have into it, so that I won’t have regrets later.
BP: What’s your favorite thing/aspect of the event?
PK: I’m probably biased since I’m a performer, but music would be my favorite aspect without a doubt.
BP: Anything else you want to add?
PK: I’ll miss jazz night a lot, it was a huge part of my high school life. Four hour long jazz rehearsals on Tuesdays were what really kept me going in life. I’ll miss it.
What were your thoughts about Jazz Night? Leave them in the comments below!
– Faith Choi (’16)
Captions: Faith Choi (’16)
Header: Justin Kwon (’16)