CHS Jazz Band Gets a Latin Workshop from Pete Siers


Pete Sears demonstrates the Latin jam on bongos for junior Will Arts while jazz teacher Jack Wagner looks on.

Pete Siers counts off the beat for the drummers in jazz band.

“Can you guys play this Vamp-a-rooney up top?” said Pete Siers to CHS Jazz Band II. They were working on “My Little Suede Shoes” by Charlie Parker and Siers was there to introduce a Latin influence.

Pete Siers is a local artist who has played with some of the biggest name in jazz including David “Fathead” Newman, Rodney Whitacker, and Lee Konitz among

many others. He started playing piano at age six but then decided to make the switch to drums. Since then he has

become an expert in Latin American rhythms and percussion.

The song Jazz band II practiced on November 22, “My Little Suede Shoes”, is a simple chord vamp with a simple melody. However, when accompanied with intense and authentic Latin rhythms, the tune really grooves.

“All you cats gotta learn this, it’s the trickiest thing, ready 1-2-a-3-4,” Siers said. He had lots of very specific tips for the jazz students, turning them into expert percussionists. The students fumbled but he was very understanding. “Can you play real slow what we just talked about…you have to screw up a little bit but just get in there,” Siers said.

Pete Siers demonstrates the Latin jam on bongos for junior Will Arts while jazz teacher Jack Wagner looks on.

For nearly 45 minutes the band didn’t even play the melody, but they didn’t need to. Instead they were learning their individual parts. The room was a South Brazilian party. Every student was getting into the music and learning the whole time.

Jack Wagner, Community High jazz director, walked in with more instruments halfway into the class. “I’ve got some more toys here,” Wagner said. There were more instruments than students. “We need more kids, Jack,” said Siers. With that, Wagner brought in more students from the other jazz bands. Siers and Wagner had as much fun teaching as all of the students had learning.

To hear Jazz Band II play “My Little Suede Shoes”, come to the CHS jazz concert on Tuesday December 14th in Craft Theater.

Pete Siers’ Website

Watch Jazz Band II work with Pete Siers: