Performances featured various schools, as well as world famous jazz drummer Jeff...

Performances featured various schools, as well as world famous jazz drummer Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts

This past weekend, the AMK Department of Music played host to the 45th annual Jazz Festival.

Middle school and high school kids from all over South Texas came and competed during the two day festival, with the jazz ensembles performing in the evening.

On Friday evening, Jazz Band III performed under Mr.James Warth to tunes such as “Storm Zone” featuring Kein Kidd on trumpet, and “One Note Samba” featuring Juan Alvarado on alto saxophone. The Latin Jazz Ensemble also performed Friday evening, playing pieces like “Back Talk” with soloist Rolando Rodriguez on alto saxophone  and “E’cucha” featuring soloists Rey Solis on trombone, Raul Valdez on conga, and Jerry Espinoza on tenor saxophone. Assistant Director of Band Jason Kihle directed the ensemble.

On Saturday evening, Jazz Band II performed to “Tuning Up”  featuring Colin Minkler on alto saxophone, Guillermo Rivera and Jose Garcia on trombone, Alexa Yunes on alto saxophone, Felix Cruz on trumpet, and Quentin Donalson on tenor saxophone. James Warth also directed this jazz ensemble.

After the awards ceremony, the award-winning Jazz Band I performed under Paul Hageman. They performed tunes such as “Race to the Bridge” featuring Jason Barrios on alto saxophone and Jerry Espinoza on tenor saxophone, and Grammy award winning “Ice-Nine” with soloists Espinoza once again and Rolando Velazquez on trombone.

The jazz ensemble then performed with Jeff “Tain” Watts, one of the most sought after jazz drummers in the world, and jazz composer. The group performed some of Watt’s own compositions, including “Blutain”, “Paen”, and “Return of the Jitney Man”. “I had a beautiful time, and the students and faculty were great to work with,” said Watts.

This was for sure a performance to remember for not only the audience, but the students performing in the ensembles as well.

“This was my first time performing with Jazz Band I, and it’s going to be hard to top this,” says Music Major Jose Gomez. “Jeff Watts is a beast on the drumset.”

“We’re very happy to host this event every year,” says music department chair Paul Hageman. “It was the highlight of the year for Jazz Band I to perform with Jeff Watts. It was definitely the most amazing musical experience of our lives.”