Jazz bands perform at club, to hold benefit concert

By Jivani Gengatharan and Lauren Sonnenberg

Three upper school jazz ensembles hit the stage May 22 at the Catalina Jazz Club as a part of the Young Artist Jazz Series.

Founded in 1996, the Series aims to provide young musicians the opportunity to exhibit their talent in front of a live audience.

The ensembles included Sam Lyons and Friends, Advanced Jazz Combo and Jazz Explorers.

The set was composed of original compositions by Jake Chapman ’12, Roy Hargrove’s “Strasbourg St. Denis” and “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music.” This was the seniors’ final school performance.

“I think the best part of the whole experience was just really bonding together with my fellow combo mates as we put in so many hours day after day in preparation for not just this gig but other performances as well,” Bradley Ho ’12 said. “We really got to know each other really well.”

The performance was especially important for seniors due to the venue’s prestige and charm.

[“It’s my] favorite place to play because it’s classic and the stage just feels better there,” Jazz Explorer Noah Weinman ’12 said. Also, Catalina is the place where [I] most often go and see other shows.”

Cited by Jazz Director Shawn Costantino as the most esteemed jazz club on the west coast, the Catalina regularly hosts professional acts attended by Harvard-Westlake students.

“Just a week ago I went straight from the middle school jazz combo concert to see Chick Korea at the Catalina,” Costantino said.

Several renowned musicians such as Grammy-nominated Anthony Wilson and Gerald Clayton have performed at the Catalina Jazz Club.

In addition to the Catalina’s prestige and the draw of its acts, the club also has a great jazz ambiance, Explorer Chris Freedman ’12 said.

To cap off the year’s jazz performances, award winning tenor saxophone player Walter Smith III will host Harvard-Westlake’s seventh Jazz Benefit Concert for Inner City Arts June 2. All proceeds from the event will be donated to Inner City Arts, an organization that brings art education to students around Los Angeles.

The entire concert is organized by Harvard-Westlake students. Weinman and Freedman are the student producers of the benefit concert which will take place in Rugby Theater at 7 p.m.

The Harvard-Westlake Jazz Explorers will also perform with the other students who have been grouped into bands to perform music.

wwMusicians from local schools are invited to take classes with the professionals.

The Master Classes offered will feature Ambrose Akinmusire, Adam Benjamin, Harish Raghavan, Kendrick Scott, and Smith.

[“These musicians are] some of the biggest musicians on the scene today,” Weinman said.