Â By Alexia Boyarsky
The Jazz Explorers, the schoolâs top jazz combo, played last Sunday at Vitelloâs Restaurant, followed by a professional combo led by Jazz Director Shawn Costantino.
The Explorers, currently consisting of Jay Dockendorf â07 on the piano, Leland Farmer â07 on the bass, Lucas Berman â07 on the drums, Ian Sprague â08 on the trumpet, and Kurt Kanazawa â07 and Ian Stanton â08 on the saxophones, have been playing together since August. After being auditioned and accepted by Dr. Jerome Margolis last fall, they began playing with Costantino this school year after Margolisâ retirement. With Dockendorf acting as student director, the Explorers pick their own songs and play a mixture of jazz classics and original compositions written by Dockendorf. Coached by Costantino, they practice three times a week with a full after school practice included.
âWeâre sort of the musical equivalent of varsity basketball,â Dockendorf said.
Most of the band members started out playing classical music but later switched to jazz because it was âmore versatile,â said Dockendorf.
âWith classical music itâs like theyâre showing you the painting,â he said. âBut with jazz, youâre painting the painting.â
This year, however, the Explorers are trying to focus more on outside of school performances than they have in the past, Dockendorf said. The band has organized another performance at Catalinaâs Bar and Grill in two weeks and has applied to three upcoming Jazz Festivals.
âItâs very hard at this school to get kids traveling,â said Costantino. âThe curriculum and homework make it difficult.â
The latest performance at Vitelloâs, is part of a larger program that Costantino hopes to implement. Each month, a different jazz combo will play at the restaurant, a regular gig Costantino hopes will eventually turn into a paying job.
Costantino and his band played some songs along with the Explorers.
âThis way the kids get a chance to feel what a real band is like, and they get the real life experience of playing with professionals,â Costantino said.