Jazz Explorers place second in regional jazz competition

By Allegra Tepper

The Jazz Explorers took second place to Oakwood in the Dos Pueblos Jazz Festival Competition last Saturday.  Nick Chuba ’10 and Leland Cox ’09 were also recognized as outstanding soloists at the festival in Goleta, CA.  The Shawn Feldman Combo, composed of members from Studio Jazz Band, also competed.

Sixteen bands from 11 schools around Southern California competed in the 40th year of the festival.  This was Harvard-Westlake’s first appearance, as well as the school’s first entry into a Jazz competition since Jazz director Shawn Costantino began teaching four years ago.

Each band was allotted a 25-minute time slot to perform for a panel of judges who scored their four tunes both for individual skill and group dynamic.  Performances were followed by clinics led by one of the judges who “imparted sage wisdom [on us],” as Cox put it.  The Explorers went over one of their arrangements with a bass player and professor from the University of Southern California.

Big bands also entered the competition along with small jazz combos, but according to Costantino, last minute logistics prevented Harvard-Westlake from entering with a large ensemble.  Next year, however, Costantino plans to prepare further in advance and bring one of the two top big bands to compete as well.