Jazz 1 going to NYC for Essentially Ellington 2019!
Wisconsin "EE" Finalist bands share an evening of Jazz...
Members of the Beloit Memorial, Middleton and Sun Prairie High School Jazz Ensembles came together last Monday night to share music (and pizza) as they all prepare to represent Wisconsin and the Midwest at the "Essentially Ellington" national jazz competition and festival sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center. All bands gathered in the SPHS Band Room as "Shrek" was moving into the PAC. The students from all bands enjoyed pizza together and then performed 4 tunes for each other. All were very supportive and it was great to hear such good music coming from our area of the state. The level of improvisation continues to improve and the depth of understanding of what it takes to swing and make this music come alive was "in the house". The evening concluded with a spontaneous jam session featuring students from all three bands. We are all looking forward to our next meeting in NYC!
Tatum Greenblatt moves us closer....
This past Monday, April 1st (no fooling!) Jazz at Lincoln Center Jazz trumpet artist and educator, Tatum Greenblatt visited SPHS Jazz Ensemble I with some tips on how to better prepare for the music for the "Essentially Ellington" festival in May. He helped us get deeper into the music. We learned about East Coast 6 count swing dancing and how our music needs to make people feel good about something they inherently don't care about - we need to play with great intent and purpose. We also talked about how to use the harmonic minor scale in the 8th bar of a blues. Key points to remember:
Jazz I gearing up for "EE" in May 2019
In preparation for their upcoming participation in the "Essentially Ellington" competition and festival, the SPHS Jazz Ensemble I has been learning from many resources. From UW-Madison, we have had Jazz percussionist Matt Endres and former UW faculty member and longtime principal trumpet of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, John Aley as well as former Chair of the UW Music Department, John Schaeffer all stop by to lend their expertise. We have also enjoyed the guidance of former Jazz II director and 8 time "EE" finalist band director, Bruce Hering. We also had former SPHS Jazz I student, Sebastian Roman stop by to add his "2 cents" as well.
Last Monday, we were treated to the guidance of current Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra member, Victor Goines, who had just flown in from Shanghai. He spent three hours with the band really helping to make the music more "personal". It was a great night filled with fantastic ideas and new ways to look at music.
Finally, a congratulations to all Middle School jazz students and directors who put on a wonderful Show at last week's "Swing into Spring"! Also congrats to our jazz parents and all in attendance who helped fundraise over $2700 that night to support our schools jazz program - THANK YOU!!!
January & Februrary - a busy month for SPHS Jazz 1!!
February included many highlights in the jazz department as well including our annual jazz festival and an appearance by Jazz I at the Colonial Club. At the Jazz Festival the Jazz I and Jazz II performed with guests from around the nation at our regional "Essentially Ellington" jazz festival that included bands from Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois. The following week, Jazz I performed for a big crowd at the Colonial Club. This concert is always a favorite of both the students and the audience and a great way to bridge generations through music.
Start spreading the news....Jazz 1 goes back to NYC for Essentially Ellington!
"That is pretty crazy,” Sun Prairie band director Steve Sveum said. “Three from the 608 area code. I don’t think that’s happened before."
At Sun Prairie's annual Essentially Ellington jazz fest Saturday, bands from across the region heard pointers from professional Jazz at Lincoln Center clinicians.
Sun Prairie's jazz band took note as they get ready for the national competition in May.
"It's a great, life-changing experience,” Sveum said. "They refer to it as the Super Bowl of jazz competitions. It really is." His students don’t call him coach, but Sveum leads the way.
"There's a lot of growth, and you never know where that's going to take you, and that's the fun part about this,” he said. One clinician referred to senior saxophonist Megan Rault as the Tom Brady of the team during practice.
"I don't really know football. I'm practicing a lot of the time, though,” Rault said. "But I feel like jazz band is more of a collaboration between everybody." Each plays their own part to create something bigger. "It's such an incredible feeling to feel. Everybody else is on the same page, beat, groove,” Rault said. “They can feel it, you can feel it. It's a good feeling." "These kids are working hard, and they're swinging,” said Steve Renko, assistant of student and family programs at the Jazz at Lincoln Center. “You hear how quickly they listen and sort of engage with the material they're given and how quickly they can change and become better, like that," he said, snapping his fingers.
Sun Prairie’s jazz band has made it this far. Now, they're building up to May's competition, in which the three top-placing bands perform alongside the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and jazz legend Wynton Marsalis. "That means you're the best jazz band in the country,” Rault said. “That would be crazy to think about." In Rault’s eyes, the opportunity is enough. "I think if we do the best we can do, I don't care the place we get,” she said. Sveum said he and the band directors from Beloit and Middleton are planning to hold a concert locally sometime before the national Essentially Ellington festival takes place.
From Channel 3000.com
Annual Big Band Dance - Saturday December 1st, 2018
Join us on Saturday December 1st at our annual Sun Prairie Big Band Dance. Performances from High School & Cardinal Heights Jazz will perform. More info to come soon!
Carter and Rampton make an Impact
We were once again fortunate to host Downbeat Magazine, "Hall of Fame" jazz educator, Ron Carter and professional Jazz Trumpeter and member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Kenny Rampton. Both Gentlemen brought wonderful concepts to our students.
Professor Carter preached making the music personal and putting our stamp on it. He encouraged students to listen and transcribe from the original recordings. He also expressed how important it is for all students to learn to improvise - nothing complicated - but to be able to play the chord changes in a melodic way using common jazz language. As usual, Mr. Carter was very direct with the specific ways that we all need to improve.
Kenny Rampton worked with our brass players on "Blowing the Pipe" to really open up their sounds. He also talked about the importance of Yoga breathing and the use of air in general. Once our brass players began playing out the whole band seemed to come alive. He also gave excellent instruction on finding the correct size plunger and how to use it. It was another great night of music education in the SPHS band room!
SPHS Jazz Audition Information
Information & music for 2018 - 2019 Sun Prairie High School Jazz Ensembles:***Auditions will be September 26-27, 2017***
SPHS Jazz Ensemble kicks off the Isthmus Jazz Festival 2018!!
Congrats to Sun Prairie Jazz 1
on their performance at 2018 Essentially Ellington!
SPHS Jazz I - "Essentially Ellington" 2018
Congratulations to members of SPHS Jazz Ensemble I who represented us all so well in New York. The band met at 3:15am on Wednesday, May 9th to head out to New York. Upon their arrival at LaGuardia airport in New York they traveled to the historic Apollo theater in Harlem. The tour was given by the legendary, Billy Mitchell - better known by some as "Mr. Apollo". The tour included the history of the building and a talent show put on by members of our tour group. After that were treated to some wonderful soul food at Sylvia's in Harlem. We enjoyed fried chicken, ribs, corn bread, potato salad and collard greens. After that we checked into the Park Central Hotel for a little down time before heading up to Central Park via the subway. We started at Strawberry Fields and walked past fountains, the carousel, bumped into bass player Emiliano Lasansky from Birch Creek, Tavern on the Green and more before taking the subway to dinner at Carmine's Times Square. We all had plenty to eat!
The next day we began by rehearsing at Michiko Studios, a rehearsal space on 46th that many New York musicians use to practice. We were joined by jazz tubist, Bob Stewart about halfway through the rehearsal who had some encouraging words to say. On the way out of the studio we also ran into jazz saxophonist Todd Williams. Some students knew him from Birch Creek and we all got to know him as an adjudicator for this year's "Essentially Ellington" festival.
We all had lunch on our own and then met at the hotel to start our festival journey. It began with the cheer tunnel and then an open rehearsal/ Q&A with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. This was followed by sectionals with members of the orchestra and then dinner and a Jam session in which 8 of our students participated in.
The next day was our rehearsal at J@LC with our mentor, Marcus Printup. Marcus had some great information to share. After that we heard 8 fantastic high school bands perform in part I of the competition. That evening we walked to Birdland - a jazz club near Times square - to have dinner and hear the Bill Charlap Trio. It was a great performance!
The following day it was our turn to perform at the festival. We warmed up with both Mr. Printup and our old friend Kenny Rampton in attendance. Everyone got fired up by Ernie who always asks "Where you at?" and "What you gonna do?" followed by a trip backstage and then showtime!
The band played very well and everyone had a good time. Several reed players were recognized for their performance. We earned an Outstanding Saxophone Section award as well as individual awards. Megan Rault for Outstanding Soprano Saxophone, Bennett Leclaire for Outstanding Tenor Saxophone, Kyra Devlin for Honorable Mention Soprano Saxophone and Dillon Crawford for Honorable Mention Clarinet.
At the conclusion of the competition, there was an opportunity for students to get their “EE” posters autographed by members of the J@LCO. Some of our students were fortunate enough to check out Dizzy’s Jazz Club when Bill Charlap entered. He asked if they wanted to hear a tune which they replied, “sure”. After he played on Dizzy’s stage for them he then proceeded to take questions about how to play on tunes - they all received a 20 minute lesson at Dizzy’s overlooking Central Park from Bill Charlap - not bad.
That evening we heard the 3 top placing bands and the J@LC Orchestra in performance followed by the awards ceremony. Mr Sveum was also fortunate to have Bob Stewart introduce him to Mercedes Ellington, Duke’s granddaughter just before the concert began.
Our final day in New York concluded with a Mother's Day brunch cruise on the Hudson River past the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Brooklyn Bridge. We then transferred to the Metropolitan Museum of Art followed by a trip to the "Top of the Rock" which we had almost exclusively to ourselves. This was followed by dinner on 7th avenue and then back home via Southwest airlines with our friends from the Beloit High School Jazz Ensemble.
This is a band to be proud of as two entire sections of the band were completely new to Jazz I this year. Students worked hard individually and in sectionals, did a lot of listening and transcribing and really took ownership of their own playing. It took a while to develop as a band, but in the last several weeks there was not a rehearsal where something did not noticeably improve. Congratulations to all in the band for their outstanding hard work that led to a memorable performance at Rose Hall on May 12, 2018! Congratulations SPHS Jazz I !!!!
Final Prep for Jazz 1 going to NYC - Essentially Ellington
Jazz I headed into their final full week of preparation for the national "Essentially Ellington" jazz festival and competition by working with some great clinicians as well as supporting the Sunshine Place. Clinicians Ron Carter, Jim Huwe, Jon Schipper, Mark Hetzler and Brianna Hepfler all contribute their thoughts on how the band could take their music to the next level
As a payback to the community, the band was the featured live entertainment at the Sunshine Ball held at Buck and Honeys on Sunday, April 29. The band played three sets of music to the delight of those in attendance.
Still to come is the"Send Off"Concert on Monday, May 7th at 8pm in the SPHS PAC. Tickets are $5 student and senior and $10 for adults. There will also be an opportunity to bid on a one hour plane ride to a destination of your choice.
Then the band departs for NYC on Wednesday, May 9th and performs on Saturday, May 12th at approximately 9:40am Sun Prairie time. The performance can be seen live at http://www.jazz.org/media/live-webcasts/
Jazz at Lincoln Center artist prepares students for "EE" National Jazz Festival & Competition
Jazz at Lincoln Center sent Juilliard Jazz trombone professor and Jazz Ensemble director, James Burton to Sun Prairie High School to help the students in SPHS Jazz I prepare for their national finalist performance on Saturday, May 12 at approximately 9:40am Central Time.
Mr. Burton spoke many truths about listening and playing with intent. He talked about our brass players using the duality of power and control. Our saxophones need to match vibrato and intent and not overplay the lead alto. He also reiterated how important our rhythm section is and that the drummer is the real leader of the band, the person that tells us all what is about to happen and gives us permission to play our dynamics.
He also looked for ways to make the music personal. He wanted shimmer in our Charleston longer notes. He also mentioned to make out backgrounds a “bubbling pot” of excitement to spur on our soloists.
We also enjoyed some wonderful food and students had many great questions for our guest. Overall, still lots to do, but always getting better.
Drummer Carl Allen pays a visit to Sun Prairie Jazz!
Just two days after returning from spring break, Jazz I had the good fortune to work with legendary drummer, Carl Allen for three hours. He began by saying congrats to the band for being an EE finalist and then immediately challenged the band to “Get Deeper”. He wanted to he more conviction and purpose in everyone’s playing. He pointed out that one of the hallmarks of Duke Ellington’s music is the element of “Call and Response” When the soloists were supported by the rhythm section and the soloists were given permission to experiment, the whole sound of the band freed up and led to a lively and engaging performance. He encourage band members to contact him with question and to always have questions for the many guests that we host. He ended by asking the band how much do they care and are they willing to something different than their friends? He encourage students to set the goal of 20 hours of practice a week and finally to “Go Deeper”.
25th Annual Sun Prairie / Essentially Ellington Regional Jazz Festival a success!!
On Saturday, February 17, 2018 the Sun Prairie Band Boosters with generous support from Jazz at Lincoln Center, Ward Brodt Music and both the Birch Creek and Shell Lake jazz camps presented the 25th Annual Sun Prairie Jazz Festival, which for the past 6 years has also been a regional "Essentially Ellington" festival.
To learn & see more - go to the Sun Prairie JazzFest Page
Congrats - SPHS Jazz 1 invited to Essentially Ellington 2018!
2018 Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival Finalist Bands
We are proud to announce the finalists of the 2018 Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival. We received submissions from many talented ensembles and it was a truly difficult decision. Listed in alphabetical order, they are:
Agoura High School (Agoura Hills, CA)
Ballard High School (Seattle, WA)
Beloit Memorial High School (Beloit, WI)
Carroll Senior High School (Southlake, TX)
Champaign Central High School (Champaign, IL)
Dillard Center for the Arts (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Mountlake Terrace High School (Mountlake Terrace, WA)
Newark Academy (Livingston, NJ)
Newton South High School (Newton, MA)
Osceola County School for the Arts (Kissimmee, FL)
Roosevelt High School (Seattle, WA)
Sun Prairie High School (Sun Prairie, WI)
Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble (Raleigh, NC)
Tucson Jazz Institute (Tucson, AZ)
William H. Hall High School (West Hartford, CT)
Jazz I plays "A Day for Seniors" at Colonial Club
The third Thursday in February is always one of the most anticipated concerts of the year - the "A Day for Seniors" concert at the Colonial Club! The Colonial Club hosts this annual event featuring the SPHS Jazz Ensemble I. The band plays an hour long set for senior citizens from all around Sun Prairie - it is always their best attended event of the year. The concert is great in that it bridges the generations from High School students to senior citizens. Once again, a great time was had by all!
Jazz II travels to New Trier Jazz Festival
On February 3rd, Jazz II traveled to the the 35th annual New Trier jazz festival and performed as an ensemble as well as attended clinics and concerts. The band performed “Front Burner”, “Almost Cried”, and “Rockabye River” for clinician Reggie Thomas. Reggie spent a fast 45 minutes working with the band, helping to deepen their concepts of swing and listening. He helped the rhythm section and soloists interact more with each other as the music needs to be a conversation between everyone, and it should definitely not be a dull conversation. Soon after, Reggie jumped behind the drumset, and called out how the drummer is really the conductor of the band, and it is the their job to tell everyone how fast or slow to go or how loud and soft to play. Finally, Reggie helped all of the students feel comfortable with the positive energy of their own sound.
Now dinner might not seem like a important portion of the festival, however for the first time, New Trier hosted a Women In Jazz Dinner! None of us are blind to the reality that the jazz world includes too few women, and that the young women in our ensembles have many fewer opportunities to see themselves in the musicians they admire. So this year, it was a goal of the festival to bring in numerous women clinicians. Clinicians Tanya Darby, Jo Ann Daugherty, Katie Ernst, and Alexa Tarantino not only gave clinics throughout the day, but were invited to be a part of a dinner panel, where they told their stories and answered student based questions about the difficulties and triumphs of being a woman in jazz.
Overall, a very good day in Illinois!
Sun Prairie Annual Big Band Dance - Saturday Dec. 2
Ron Carter brings the Art of Swing to SPHS!
He also mentioned that the key to Duke Ellingtons' music was to be sure that no two accents were the same. He was looking for balance and conversation in all parts of the band. Another major point he brought up was singing along with the original recordings and recording yourself the better hear what you are playing. Playing jazz is like cooking: listening to recordings and singing is like cooking from the recipe in the cookbook and then as you get to know the recipe you start to add some of your own spices to make your cooking personal. Just like playing jazz, learn to emulate the recordings of the masters and then make it personal by adding things you have heard and transcribed in the listening process.
Always great to have Ron Carter in the house....
About SPHS Jazz:
The Sun Prairie High School Jazz Ensemble Program consists of three performing jazz ensembles as well as multiple jazz combos. The bands meet as an extracurricular activity two to three times per week from October through March, student run sectionals. The Jazz Ensembles include students in grades 10-12 and all jazz students must also perform in the concert band. All bands perform concerts locally and host an annual big band dance in December.
The SPHS Jazz Ensemble I has traveled throughout the Midwest and Germany and have earned numerous awards and performed at several conventions, including the Midwest Clinic with Wynton Marsalis. The band has been recently featured statewide at the Martin Luther King celebration in Madison and the Mary Lou Williams tribute concert, also held in Madison. They have been an “Essentially Ellington” finalist in New York eight times, placing third three times.
Over the past several years students of the ensembles have had the opportunity to host and interact with great jazz musicians at SPHS. A partial list includes:
as well as mentors
The band also hosts its annual Sun Prairie JazzFest during February attracting bands from across the state and clinicians from across the country.