Musicians jazz up Vitello’s Restaurant

Two school jazz groups, the Jazz Explorers and Shawn Feldman’s Sextet, performed alongside Performing Arts teacher Shawn Costantino’s professional band at Vitello’s Restaurant in Studio City Nov. 2.

Alex Silverman ’10, a member of the Jazz Explorers, said these performances are a tradition. The first Harvard-Westlake jazz gig at Vitello’s was in 2005. Since then, Harvard-Westlake groups have consistently played there a few times a year.

Every few months, Costantino selects two or three groups from Jazz Band, Jazz Ensemble and Studio Jazz Band class to play at Vitello’s.

Shawn Feldman’s Sextet, one of two jazz combos in the Studio Jazz Band class, consists of Shawn Feldman ’09 on alto-saxophone, Alex Scharch ’11 on saxophone, Jordan Bryan ’11 on drums, Hank Adelman ’11 on the bass guitar, Kevin Schwarzwald ’11 on the piano and Edwin Lim ’10 on the guitar.

At Vitello’s, the group performed four songs – “Too Close for Comfort,” by George David Weiss, Larry Holofcener and Jerry Bock; “I Remember Clifford,” by Benny Golson; “Love for Sale,” by Cole Porter; and “Jazz Samba,” by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd.

Following the Sextet’s performance, Costantino’s band took the stage.

The Jazz Explorers finished off the night with five songs – “So What,” by Miles Davis; “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes,” by Ben Weisman, Dottie Wayne and Marilyn Garrett; “My Romance,” by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart; “Recordame,” by Joe Henderson; and a composition by their saxophonist, Leland Cox ’09.

Silverman says the group has been preparing this gig for roughly three weeks.

The Jazz Explorers consists of selected members of Jazz Band, the most advanced jazz class at the Upper School.

Members include Nick Chuba ’10 on guitar, Silverman on bass guitar, Charlie Fogarty ’10 on drums, Austin Park ’10 on trumpet and Leland Cox ’09 on saxophone.

The group, which rehearses after school at least once per week, is mostly independent of the band class, Cox said. In addition to playing at school-organized events like parent parties and Back to School Day, the Jazz Explorers also occasionally play private, paid gigs at the request of Harvard-Westlake parents, according to Silverman.

Cox, who was a member of the Explorers last year, said that despite a few “hiccups,” the group is playing “much better than the Explorers did at the beginning of the year last year.”

“It’s not that we’re better,” he later clarified. “We just have a completely different dynamic this year than we had last year. I think everyone is a little more committed to playing the music.”