CHS Students Blow Out The Ark



On Monday May 22, sounds of blasting trumpets and beating drums soared out of The Ark on South Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor. Taking place was Community High School’s Year End Jazz Blowout. The unique venue, with no windows and dark jazz-club- like lighting housed a packed room of enthusiastic parents, teachers, students, and alumni. There were two different lineups, each consisting of different bands, representing all Jazz classes in CHS’s program. Announcing each band was Community High Jazz teacher Jack Wagner. Most songs were interspersed with impressive improv solos and showed vibrant communication between all members of the band.

Following performances from Jazz 1 and 2 came  “Cold Tone Dreamery”, consisting of Patrick Kollman on Alto and tenor saxophone, Clarence Collins III on trumpet, Mason Cox on drums, Danny Freiband on guitar, and Harry Croley on bass. Their set began with a Victor Feldman tune entitled “Joshua,” arranged by Jack Wagner. The creeping bass line that begins the song crept in and out of solid solos by Collins and Kollman. The band followed this song with Round Midnight, a beautiful ballad, played with such precision and grace that it nicely complemented the set. “Cold Tone Dreamery” closed their set with Twin by Christian Scott, engaging the crowd in a clapping beat.

Following “Cold Tone Dreamery” was a reunion of the band “Tempus Fugit.” Composed of Community Grads of the class of 2017 (and also Danny Freiband, a current junior), this band recently won The DownBeat Magazine Student Music Awards in the High School Combo Contest, a national award (The awards are given to bands that submitted in the previous year). Last year, they placed second. Tempus Fugit includes Jonathan Lynn on alto saxophone, Danny Freiband on guitar, Seamus Lynch on bass, Aidan Wada-Dawson on saxophone, Erez Dessel on piano, and Aaron Willette on drums. Wada-Dawson now studies at the Berklee College of Music, Dessel at the New England Conservatory, and Lynn, Lynch, and Willette are all pursuing music-related degrees at the University of Michigan. For not having played for about a year, the band’s communication and sound were that of one who has been meeting regularly. In this band are six excellent musicians on their own, as was heard in the impressive improv solos, but it is the band’s cohesive and exciting sound that carries them.

Starting off the 7:45 show was ”Noize ‘R Us”, consisting of Mei Semones on guitar, Tim Walters on bass, Aris Chalin on piano, and Joel Appel-Kraut on drums. Most notable were Mei Semones’s humble guitar solos throughout the three songs, and Aris Chalin’s soaring piano interludes. Also notable were Walters’s full body playing as he moved up the bass, as well as Appel-Kraut’s steady and solid drumming.

“Five Guys, Burners In Ties” followed, with Lucas Atkinsmith on Violin, Jesse Edelstein on Guitar, Terrence Vick on Drums, Sam Uribe on Tenor Sax, and Jonah Eichner on Bass. The band first played Cheesecake and Mood Indigo, and then closed it off with what Jack Wagner called “A Surprise for Quinn Strassel.” The number, entitled “Fiddler on the Roof,” arranged by C. Adderley, began with a beat provided by Vick, as Collins—who played Tevye, the protagonist in Community’s recent production of the musical—walked onstage and recited the opening monologue of the show. The interlude included melodies from the shows big numbers, centering around the opening song “Tradition.” In each solo, the band members also referenced other tunes from the show. Atkinsmith opened with a jazzy version of the fiddler theme he played in the show; Edelstein snuck in a bit of “Hava Nagila,” a Jewish tune, and Collins added in parts of Tevye’s song “If I Were A Rich Man.” The number earned a standing ovation.

It is clear that Wagner emphasizes the importance of listening and collaboration in Jazz; all bands seemed to have an awareness of each other. In an art form so full of spontaneous creation, a notable sense of control was maintained through all the combos. The musicians had an ease about them. Most rewarding however, was to see students responding so positively to each other’s art, cheering from the outer walls of the Ark.