Jazz combo plays at Vitello’s


The Jazz Explorers, the school’s top jazz combo, played last Sunday at Vitello’s Restaurant, followed by a professional combo led by Jazz Director Shawn Costantino.

The Explorers, currently consisting of Jay Dockendorf ’07 on the piano, Leland Farmer ’07 on the bass, Lucas Berman ’07 on the drums, Ian Sprague ’08 on the trumpet, and Kurt Kanazawa ’07 and Ian Stanton ’08 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 Margolis’ 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.

“We’re sort of the musical equivalent of varsity basketball,” Dockendorf said.

Most of the band members started out playing classical music but later switched to jazz because it was “more versatile,” said Dockendorf.

“With classical music it’s like they’re showing you the painting,” he said. “But with jazz, you’re painting the painting.”

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 Catalina’s Bar and Grill in two weeks and has applied to three upcoming Jazz Festivals.

“It’s very hard at this school to get kids traveling,” said Costantino. “The curriculum and homework make it difficult.”

The latest performance at Vitello’s, 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.

“This 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,” Costantino said.