With its candlelit tables, smooth jazz, and the cool breeze blowing in from the rain outside, it was difficult not to mistake the Eastchester Middle School cafeteria for a jazz club in New Orleans on this particular evening. Hosting the annual Eastchester MS/HS Spring Jazz Concert, the everyday lunchroom was transformed into a sophisticated jazz cafe as our ever so talented young musicians gave stellar renditions of classics like “Linus and Lucy” by Vince Guaraldi, “Moon River” by Henry Mancini, and “One Note Samba” by Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Under the direction of Mr. Mark Dodge and Mr. Donald Olsen, the EMS Jazz Band, EHS/EMS Jazz Strings, and the EHS Jazz Band were all able to wow us with their musical brilliance. The students that make up this musical groups set the perfect example for their peers of the beauty that comes out of hard work, discipline, and passion. Unlike the other musical concerts of the Eastchester school district, the ones hosted by the Jazz Band have a much more relaxed feel to them. These students choose to be a part of Jazz Band, and dedicate hours after school rehearsing and mastering their pieces, proving that their deep love for music seeks no numerical reward, and goes beyond any school requirements.
Usually found playing the cello, senior Jake James was able to share with us his remarkable talent on the fiddle as he played three traditional Gaelic tunes with Mr. Dodge on guitar and sophomore Duhee Han on bass. Senior Eve Lott, who also played the role of Princess Fiona in the EHS Players Club’s production of Shrek the Musical, flawlessly sang “Down By the Sally Gardens” with the EHS/EMS Jazz Strings, a song whose lyrics also happen to be a poem written by W.B. Yeats.
One of the most special aspects of the night was having Eastchester School District superintendent Dr. Walter Moran join the EHS Jazz Band for a few numbers. Expertly playing the saxophone, Dr. Moran even soloed in “Killer on the Keys” by Larry Neeck, a piece which also featured HS Jazz Band president Yasmeen Safaie on the piano. When asked about the experience, Dr. Moran shares with a laugh, “It makes me feel young. They keep me young and inspired and I am very grateful that they welcomed me into the group.” Dr. Moran expresses great pride in how well the music department has been doing this year, especially as a program on the rise. He commends the improvisation aspect of live performance that these students have mastered, which while he admits is very difficult, is also very gratifying.
On behalf of the entire EHS Music Department, Mr. Olsen and Mr. Dodge would like to extend a huge thank you to Dr. Gines Cano of the Crestwood Music Education Center for generously donating 20 new music stand lamps which contributed greatly to the success of tonight’s concert. They are also very grateful to Eastchester school parent Laurie Duffy and her company Fast Linen Service for supplying tonight’s custom linens, as well as to the parents of our Jazz Band musicians (especially those who are a part of the Eastchester Music Boosters Club) for bringing food and refreshments for all to enjoy.