BHS Jazz Band offers students additional experience, performance opportunities

Zachary Jones, Staff Writer


The Bearden jazz band is returning once again for another year of displaying the immense and diverse talent Bearden students have to offer. Jazz Band is an extension off of the regular concert band.

This band includes five trumpeters, five trombonists, two alto saxophonists, two tenor saxophonists, a baritone saxophonist, a pianist, a guitarist, and a drummer. Although many believe that Jazz Band only includes people from regular band, that is not the case. The audition is open to anyone interested.

Many people who play the woodwind instruments are in band so generally these students are the only ones who audition for these parts, but the guitarist, pianist, and drummer are a great way for students not in the Bearden musical department to get involved.

“[Jazz Band] prepares you for success and not just in college but with technical vocations and just life in general because we need more people doing things together and working towards a common goal,” band director Mr. Jamie Wilson said. “On top of that, that’s gonna teach you dedication and discipline and honing a craft and preparing for a skill-based performance situation.”

Jazz Band gives students the opportunity to perform at a large variety of concerts. One recurring performance is during every band concert where the Jazz Band performs solo. Every year, the Jazz Band also gets to perform at the University of Tennessee Jazz Festival, which is an event that invites many local jazz groups and musicians to come play and/or teach.

Jazz Band had a new opportunity last year to perform for the faculty on the last day of school last semester to showcase their talent to a group that usually does not get to experience it first hand. All these events allow the aspiring musicians to perform, gain experience, and show a growing group of people what their hard work has led up to.

“[Jazz Band] is a fun experience getting to play jazz, blues, and rock and roll in front of an audience,” junior Ryan Petersen said. “Jazz is my favorite musical literature because of its fast and upbeat style of rhythm.”

The Bearden Jazz Band has had changes over the many years, but none of them are as influential as the addition of Tom Lundberg to the program. At one time the Jazz Band used to be balanced between Mr. Wilson and his fellow colleagues. This eventually became too much for the current staff to balance, so former West Valley band director Mr. Mike Spirko joined on and helped the Jazz Band rehearse and perform. Mr. Spirko would eventually move on to a different position, which would opened the needed position of a third person.

At the time, some band students were receiving private lessons from Lundberg, who is the director of the Knoxville Jazz Youth Orchestra, KJYO, and is well-known in the Knoxville jazz community. On a whim, Mr. Wilson and fellow BHS band director Mrs. Megan Christian asked Lundberg if they charged the students a small fee, would he be willing to come to the school, help the students practice, and be a director of the Jazz Band? They never thought he would say yes but after a few questions, he was on-board.

Overall, this year the Jazz Band is expected to expand and train more and more aspiring musicians.