Four bands from Roseburg area schools came together Monday night for the Combined Jazz Band Concert at Roseburg High School.
Now in its eighth year, the concert brings together student musicians from Fremont Middle School, Jo Lane Middle School, Roseburg High School and Umpqua Community College for a celebration of jazz music. Branden Hansen, event organizer and Roseburg High School Director of Bands, said choosing to celebrate jazz has always been an easy decision.
“Also, jazz is one of the few, uniquely American art forms. So much of the music studied in schools and conservatories is rooted in orchestral literature which is strictly European in origin,” Hansen said. “Jazz was born in the United States and spread from there. Even rock music has its roots in Jazz music. It has great historical significance in addition to simply being a lot of fun.”
More than 38 middle school students performed at the event, joined by 23 high school students and a variety of community musicians that encompass Umpqua Community College’s Big Horn Jazz Band. The concert provides a unique opportunity for middle school students to observe high school students and high school students to see the type of options open to them after graduation.
“This is a combined concert where students from both middle schools can get an opportunity to see and hear the levels of music beyond middle school,” Jo Lane Middle School band director Trevor Thompson said. “Between listening to the RHS jazz ensemble and the Big Horn Jazz Band, the middle school students can get a good sense what they will be doing once they leave middle school.”
Micah Nichols, a Roseburg High School senior and percussionist for the ensemble, thinks joining the jazz band has massively improved his talent as a musician.
“My current goal now is to simply be better than the musician that I was, and while jazz night as a performance is definitely low-key, it helps me achieve that goal through the performance,” Nichols said. “You can always practice music, notes and rhythms or whatever, but you almost never have the chance to practice performing and low-key events are crucial for that type of practice, for both me and the ensemble as a whole.”
Ross Hansen, band director at Fremont and a guitar instructor at UCC, said he looks forward to jazz night every year.
“I look forward to this night every year and getting to listen to all the bands in town,” Ross Hansen said. “Jazz is alive and well in Roseburg.”