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 KHS Jazz Band Bops Back After 10 Years

February 27, 2008 - The Knightstown High School Jazz Band is back in action after a 10-year hiatus. The group was featured in a high-profile performance last Thursday during the KHS Band Department’s annual “Dinner and a Show” event.

The 10-member jazz band was second to take the stage Thursday night, under the direction of band leader Chris Holland, who also plays piano for the group. Holland his students played four numbers, including “Leap Frog,” “California Dreamin’,” “Bluesette,” and “Johnny B. Goode,” and received a very enthusiastic response from the audience.

Holland said the high school jazz band kind of fell by the wayside after some key members graduated. Only recently, he said, have students shown an interest in reviving the group. “The idea for the jazz band really isn’t new,” Holland said. “This time, the kids came up with the idea. I told them I could help with that and here we are.”

The group got its debut about a month ago at a Lady Panther varsity basketball game. But, Holland said they began rehearsing immediately after marching band season, which concludes with the last home football game. “We started meeting and rehearsing some jazz standards,” Holland said. “Our kids have been great. We schedule these rehearsals and many of them show up for every single practice. They seem to like the music and the challenge that comes with playing them.”

KHS Principal Ray Willsey said he’s excited about the jazz band’s resurgence. “The jazz band is a work in progress,” he said. “The kids are into the music and they’re very much into expanding their musical horizons. Jazz is a whole ‘nother realm of music, especially when it comes to chord progressions, improvisation, etc. You’ve got to love it, in order to grow with it.”

Willsey already sat in once with the jazz band, playing trumpet during the group’s debut. Normally a trombone player, the principal nevertheless contributed his musical skills to the fledgling band’s performance. “(The jazz band) exhibited a lot of energy during their show last week. I think the nucleus is there for the jazz band,” Willsey said. “I hope it keeps going and I know Mr. Holland does, too.”

Holland and Willsey are both excited about the new group. But, Holland said he’d like to see more kids get involved, spreading the instruments out a little more. “We have a lot of sax and trumpet right now,” he said. “I could use some more trombone players, an electric bassist and a guitar player.”

The band director said the jazz band won’t be featured regularly in KHS concerts. Instead, he said the jazz band will likely play at CAB elementary schools and special occasions. “Our “Dinner and a Show event seemed tailor-made for the jazz band,” Holland said. “That’s why we put them on the bill. It’s very rare to see the jazz band on stage with the concert band and the intermediate school band. This group will be out in the community more, playing in the gazebo, church fundraisers at the library – those kind of things.”

KHS Jazz Band members include Crystal Heim, Annie Braunschweig, Ariane Guffey, Brad Hammer, Jared Kayajan, Kyle Thomas, Jessica Huffman, Daniel Stoten, Chris Cook, Nick Hammer and Holland.


► See also video of event: KHS Band Presents 'Jazzamatazz'


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