From April 19 to 21, WTAMU jazz band students attended the 42nd annual Greeley Jazz Festival hosted by the University of Northern Colorado and sponsored by Jamey Aebersold.
“This guy is probably credited to be the biggest jazz educator ever, releasing at least 25 books of jazz for students,” Nathan Hoover, sophomore Music Education major, said.
Each student was a part of one of the WT ensembles, which included Jazz I, Jazz II and Jazz combo.
“It is a great event that allows us to get the West Texas name out there playing great music,” Shannon Gray, Mass Communication major, said. “I look forward to Greeley every spring semester. The music we play is fun and entertaining. This festival gives us, as students, a chance to see amazing musicians and how they perform that we wouldn’t get to see otherwise. “
None of the WT groups competed, but they performed for judges in order to get critiqued and hear ideas about how to improve.
Hoover said the judge for his group chose to miss his lunch break in order to work with the students.
“He was very insightful and knowledgeable of what we were doing and how it could be better,” he said.
Attendees have the option to attend clinics about improvisation, listening skills and rhythm as well as the chance to watch concerts and take part in question-and-answer sessions.
“There were many great concerts with great musicians,” Juan Ramirez, junior Music Education major, said. “Live jazz is one of the greatest things in this world. Jazz is a truly unique form of music. It’s one that you can express yourself through improvisation, and it’s probably the only form of music that started in America.”
Freshman Joey De La Garza received an Outstanding Musicianship award at the festival for his performance.
“He really earned it and worked so hard,” Nick Scales, director of Jazz Band II, said.
Scales said that the festival is a big deal.
“Students get to hear music up there that we don’t get here,” he said.
Scales said he hopes that, in the future, WT will be able to bring a jazz musician to campus to work with students and perform. He said the future of the jazz bands is growing as interest in the program is growing.
“I know I am, as well as the rest of the people who went, on fire and inspired by all the performances that took place and are ready to take our playing to the next level,” Hoover said.