Jazz in the Meadows celebrates 35th anniversary Saturday
Tucked into a corner of the school library, a quintet of Rolling Meadows High School jazz musicians played three classic jazz pieces for a small audience Saturday.
The Rolling Meadows combo's performance contrasted with jazz ensembles consisting of dozens of musicians that played in the main gym during the 35th annual Jazz in the Meadows festival.
The event involves 113 performances by 65 groups of high school and middle school students from four states, said Christopher Buti, Rolling Meadows High School director of bands and event organizer.
The Rolling Meadows combo played "Take Five" by Dave Brubeck, and "Slow Dance" and "Mr. PC" by John Coltrane.
Bass player Rhys Tatton, a 17-year-old junior, said the advantage of playing as a quintet is that it allows greater creative control over both the selection of the music and how it is played.
"It's just something we decided to do one day and we made it happen, and it feels really good," Tatton said.
Senior Joe De Maria, 17, agreed. He said it's nice to be free from the will of the directors, though they are receptive to advice.
"We have a lot of freedom. It's a lot more personal," said De Maira, who played both piano and saxophone.
Sax player Amanda Hammons, an 18-year old senior, said there's also room for improvisation. During "Slow Dance," she started out the way John Coltrane wrote and performed it, then added her own improvisational twist.
The balance of the combo included senior Harry Heck, 17, who played trumpet and piano, and freshman Ryan Cejaq, 14, who played drums.
In the gym, the performance by the Mundelein High School Jazz Ensemble featured solos by Garrett Munz on both the soprano and alto saxophone and by Elias Photopoulos on the baritone saxophone as the group played "Moanin'," by Charles Mingus. The solos were well-received by the audience.
"It's a great day for us to come and perform for other high school students," said ensemble director Andy Sturgeon, "and also to hear the hard work other high school students have been putting in to get ready for a day like today."