New Trier High School hosted their 28th annual jazz fest on Saturday, Feb. 5. The Frank Mantooth Jazz Festival, named for the jazz pianist and DePaul University educator who passed away in 2004, is a non-competitive performance and workshop opportunity for junior high and high school-age jazz musicians.
More than 30 schools from Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and other states participated in this year’s festival, which was held at New Trier High School in Winnetka.
Grammy-nominated recording artists, the Mingus Big Band, headlined the evening concert. The band was formed in 1991 to commemorate the music of jazz icon, Charles Mingus, and performs regularly in New York City as well as keeping up a national and international tour schedule.
Earlier in the day, students were able to attend special interest clinics, such as The world of the touring jazz musician, and How to improvise. Additionally, members of the Mingus Big Band offered master classes to some of the area's best young jazz players.
The day’s activities were capped off by an evening concert featuring the New Trier High School Jazz Ensemble 1 and the Mingus Big Band.
New Trier’s Jazz Ensemble 1, made up of several IMEA District 7 and All-State musicians, set a high performance standard for the evening. The highly polished group played with gusto, starting their set with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis tune “Tip Toe.”
The ensemble next welcomed tenor sax star Seamus Blake onto the stage at Gaffney Auditorium in “Without a Song.” The crowd enthusiastically greeted Blake, who is also part of the Mingus Big Band.
The New Trier Guitar Ensemble sat in for one song, playing “Sleepy Lulu.” Four New Trier guitarists comprise the ensemble: Robbie Doan, Will Jacobs, Billy Rivi and Peter Gabrielides. The New Trier Jazz Ensemble 1 also highlighted their IMEA All-State pianist, Shane Simpson in the Oliver Nelson arrangement of Thelonious Monk’s “Reflections.”
The group ended their set with the upbeat “Emancipation Blues,” by Oliver Nelson. The highlight of the song came shortly after each trombone player took a solo; the four participating trombonists played a jaw-dropping sequence that had the crowd on it's feet.