Jazz Concert on Thursday: a Night of Music and Magic

Monica Sosa-Hernandez, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

“When people talk about Jazz, they talk about it like America’s original art form. It could only really have evolved here, and it is a music that has meant a lot of different things over time,” said Steve Johnson, the band teacher at Notre Dame Academy. 

In the past, around the time of World War II, Jazz was the type of music you would play at parties and would typically hear on the radio. But as time passed, Jazz is no longer recognized as it once was. 

“It is a music that requires a technical proficiency, but also requires you to hear and interpret the music in a different way than what it is on the paper because that music was originally an aural art form, a music that people learn by ear,” explained Johnson. 

Some students that Johnson has had have been more comfortable playing popular music or rock music. Popular music is still similar to Jazz in the sense that a lot of pop music is not written out and people tend to learn it by ear instead. 

If students are able to learn music by ear, they are more likely to be successful in a Jazz context because they already would have obtained the aural skills, Johnson stated. In the traditional band and choral programs, the focus is more on the written portion of music and being able to obtain the reading skills.

“It’s great, but sometimes when you come up that way, the aural component can be more challenging,” stated Johnson. 

Jazz music and American popular music “is an example of beauty born from tragedy.” The reason that these types of music evolve, specifically in the United States, is because “of some horrible systems that were in place here.” It is a collaboration between the western and non-western traditions. Non-western tradition, meaning music from Africa, South America, Carribean and so many more joining together to get the western “musical traditions.”

Next week, on Thursday, Nov. 7, a Jazz concert at NDA will enable people to get a feel of what Johnson is talking about and why he is so into the world of Jazz. 

“We will be starting with our Second Jazz Band and then Tritones will perform a few selections. Next we’ll be doing a piece combining one of the Jazz bands with the Tritones. Then we will be finishing out with Jazz One. So, we will be paying a variety of music, some swing and Latin music.” 

“Jazz Two,” continued Johnson,  “is doing a great Dizzy Gillespie composition, Manteca, a collaboration between Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo, who is a cungero. We’re also going to play a couple Jazz standard pieces.”

Entering the world of Jazz is a “one of a kind experience” and one that everyone should come and see on November 7 at 7 p.m. in Notre Dame Academy’s auditorium. 

It will be a night full of music and magic.