K-W Jazz Band

The Jazz Band practices in the K-W Band Room before school begins. (Michelle Vlasak/The Kenyon Leader)

Approximately five years later, the Kenyon-Wanamingo Jazz Band is back in action.

The band, led by K-W Band Director Claire Larson, held its first rehearsal before school on Thursday, a session Larson called “the best first rehearsal ever.”

According to a Tour of Jazz, “a jazz band typically consists of five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones, and a rhythm section — made up of piano, bass, guitar and drums. Sometimes the vibraphone — part of the xylophone family, clarinet, violin and singers are added to the group.”

One senior in the band, Daniel Benrud, holds high hopes for the future of the jazz band once his class graduates in May.

“[The expectation I have is] just to keep the jazz band going,” said Benrud. “I played in seventh grade and then it just died after that.”

Larson indicates that the reason the jazz band wasn’t able to continue those five years lies in student interest and busy schedules.

“[Jazz band] has to have student interest,” said Larson. “Many students also have basketball before school, so for five years kids couldn’t come and practice because they had sports practice before school. Now that we have all this space [from the facilities improvements] and sports practice is usually always held after school school, it opens up this time slot for students to participate in jazz band.”

Benrud added that it also has a lot to do with this year’s senior group of band members.

“The senior group this year loves band,” said Benrud. “[You can tell] they care about improving the younger ones.”

Although the band is for high school students, Larson recruited one seventh grader to play trombone, one eighth grader to play saxophone and another eighth grader to play trumpet, to add the mix.

“It also has to do with altos and trumpets,” said Larson. “It takes more than a random sampling of seniors that want to participate, it’s a collective group.”

Each instrument adds an element of melodic harmony, with extra instruments providing greater depth.

Senior Gabby Bauer confirmed that having younger students in the band may help the future of the jazz band.

“If you start them out when they are younger like this, they are going to want to come back,” said Bauer. “I wish I could stay in [K-W’s] band after I graduate, because it’s honestly the best thing in my day.”

Many seniors in the band are excited and looking forward to what will come out of the experience.

“I think it will be really fun to work with people younger then us,” said Shelby Noah. “Also to start a program that hopefully keeps going once we leave.”

Victor Martinez predicts, “It’s going to be a good experience, I was in it when I was younger. It will be fun.”

The band plans to go on a mini tour around the local area to share their music with the public.

Although specific dates haven’t been set, Larson is equally excited as students, in terms of the band’s potential and places they may go on tour. Some areas she has in mind are the Kenyon Bar and Grill, Imminent Brewing in Northfield, JB’s Tavern in Wanamingo and possibly others.

“We will talk more about what we want to do, but I don’t think anything is off the table,” said Larson. “I like the vibe of playing local, so parents can easily attend, and where is no pressure in competing in contests and everyone can relax. I want to have fun with it.”

Being able to travel to different areas is one thing that senior Ally Peterson is looking forward to.

“I think it will be fun to go play at places and for people to see us having so much fun,” said Peterson. “Wherever we go we could make someone’s day, so we will also feel good doing it.”

Some music the band will be play this year ranges from pieces like “Rock Hero” by Victor Lopez-Pierz, “Reboot” by Vince Gassi, “Aftershock” by Larry Barton and “Sideways Walkin’ Dog” by Zachary Smith and The Dixie Power Trio. A full list of tunes to be played can be found at bit.ly/kwjazzband.

Reach reporter Michelle Vlasak at 507-333-3128 or follow her on Twitter @apgmichelle. ©Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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