Extra, Extra! Rochester Jazz Festival Knocks the Socks off Locals!


Alexa Lee, Editor

The finale of jazz season arrived with a the crash of cymbals and the hypnotizing whine of saxophones. Nearly filling the John Marshall auditorium, The Rochester Jazz Festival was a smash hit. Hosted by Chris Jarvis, who will sadly be retiring after this year, the annual jazz festival showcases the talents of Mayo, Century, and John Marshall high school bands in this rhythmic paradise. At the end, the bands are brought together as one unit in a kaleidoscopic piece.

Mayo High School did phenomenally, the time and melody of each piece transcended modern era. Entering with the clang and boom of “Harlem Congo”, this lovely rendition turned back time to the roaring prosperity of the 1920s, a time when Harlem erupt with repressed soul and spirit of revolution in a renaissance-a revival of African American culture. The awakening of renaissance jazz in our own Ilstrup Auditorium shook the audience with only the first song. A performance that is difficult to follow, and harder to match. A round of applause apt only for the Roaring Twenties itself was issued after Mayo High School left the stage.

The Century High School band boldly spreads across, from curtain to curtain. Jumping right in, the swingy livelihood is unshakeable as Century begins with “Point of Impact”, composed by Mr. Jarvis himself. Taking time for each section to present themselves, Century and Mayo both had segments where each section would stand, carrying the melody and allowing applause. Saxophone has a extraordinary solo halfway through song, moving with the rhythm of the piece he sways and leads the great chorus of bleating jazz instruments. Sliding straight into a loud, thrilling and stunning “Horsepower,” the beat is  so inescapably catchy that one must fight themselves not to jive like it’s 1925 and get down at this upstanding event. A jazz performance is truly defined by how well they execute any piece by the one and only Louis Armstrong. After a phenomenal delivery of “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue” by Armstrong himself, Century certainly conquers all before it with the husky and soul-filling lulls of an ancient culture. A time that only was, and notes that were revived in this auditorium tonight.

With a pristine finish, The John Marshall band itself reclaims its auditorium with the rich clamor of “Oleo”. Another word for oil, as well as margarine, “Oleo”’s smooth sound precedes its performance, notes ringing out memorably in John Marshall’s favor. A rich tenor fills the air, and what follows are swanky notes clogging the air in a burlesque “Embraceable You”. The slow groans of saxophones entertain and the band syncopates again as one, swaying together like waves against a sandy paradise.  The execution of the following numbers were incomparable to what happens once every band rises to stage.

Grace takes on a new meaning. The collective bellow from a crowd of what I approximated at 100 bandies forms “Check’s in the mail” gracefully and sauvely, the mass of saxophones blaring out a vivacious serenade. The performance cuts abruptly and the atmosphere decrescendos as the artists leave stage, to fan out into the hallway and greet their audience.