For the first time in the history of The Harker School, jazz bands from all three campuses came together for “An Evening of Jazz,” a major performance at the Blackford Theater in mid-March. Dressed to the nines, students spanning K-12 played fifteen standards, mixing suave and bluesy numbers with funkier, buoyant beats while alternating between solo performances and ensemble work.
The upper school’s The Harker School Jazz Band, directed by Chris Florio, led off with the energetic, trombone-heavy “I Got Rhythm,” by George and Ira Gershwin, and a dark and romantic rendition of “When Sunny Gets Blue,” featuring the vocals of Francesca Nagle, grade 12. The Lower School Jazz Ensemble, directed by Louis Hoffman, followed with the sweet “Tenor Madness,” the smoky “Killer Joe” and Charlie Parker’s “Now’s the Time,” with talented soloists who were barely taller than their instruments. The show was then handed off to the Middle School Jazz Band, directed by David Hart, whose medley of Sonny Rollins compositions included the tropical and airy “St. Thomas” and the blues number “Sunny Moon for Two.”
After intermission, the middle school group finished their Sonny Rollins medley with a new arrangement of “Doxy” that the group had been experimenting with in the days leading up to the show. After they finished with the catchy “Work Song,” by Nat Adderley, the upper schoolers retook the stage for a series of numbers designed to feature graduating seniors in their final major jazz concert. The rumbling, moody “A Mis Abuelos,” by Arturo Sandoval, gave way to Thelonius Monk and Cootie Williams’ melancholy “’Round Midnight” before Nagle returned to help the band finish off with Duke Ellington and Mack David’s “I’m Just a Lucky So and So,” the touching “Skylark” and “Smack Dab in the Middle.”
As the performance came to a close, the audience recognized each band with rapt applause, before all three groups crowded together on stage in a final, rousing rendition of “When the Saints (Go Marching In)”, bringing the evening to a close on a high note.