A Night of Jazz


Caroline Krofcheck, Staff Writer

It was a cool, calm evening on November 16th, however, this serenity was broken rather abruptly as guests entered the Upper St Clair High School and were greeted by the overwhelming swell of jazz. Audience members could hear the flute, the saxophone, and the clarinet all working together to create a beautiful melody, and we knew a good concert was in store for all of us. Mary Cagni, whose grandson is in the Jazz Lab, said, “I have been looking forward to seeing him play for months now.” 


Hosted by the high school that night was the annual Fall Jazz concert, featuring the Upper St. Clair Honors Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Lab as well as a famous guest musician, Jared Sims. The high school jazz band was due to perform several numbers that evening across multiple decades of music, including I Want You Back by the Jackson Five, Feeling Good by Nina Simone, and Isn’t She Lovely by Stevie Wonder. With such a talented group of students and such an eclectic selection of music, the theater was abuzz with excitement. Karen, who handed out pamphlets for the event at the door, said, “My son has been practicing for this nonstop.” 


When the lights dimmed and the high school band director, Dr. John Seybert, stepped onto the stage, a silence heavy with anticipation fell over the crowd. 


No one was going to go home disappointed by the night’s performances. 


The Jazz Lab opened the show with a performance of Feeling Good arranged by Rick Stitzel followed by Song for my Father by Horace Silver. Naptown Blues by John l. (Wes) Montgomery and I Want You Back arranged by John Wasson closed out the first half of the show. Edwin Krofcheck, a tenor saxophone in the jazz lab said, “We were so excited to play tonight after all of our practice.” 


After the intermission the Honors Jazz Ensemble took the stage, opening their act with Vine Street Rumble by Benny Carter. Their next pieces were C-Jam Blues (a la Mambo!) by Duke Ellington and Overjoyed by Stevie Wonder featuring Jared Sims on the tenor saxophone. They then played another Stevie Wonder song, Isn’t She Lovely before closing the show with There’s Only So Much Oil in the Ground, a classic by Tower of Power. 


The Jazz Lab and Ensemble played their hearts out and all of their months of hard work were evident in their near-perfect numbers. The hours of practice put into their pitch, their timing, and their fingerwork brought about a wonderful concert. Each student beamed ear to ear with pride after completing their solo, and their director looked just as proud. 


Accompanying the students through many of their numbers was their guest musician, Jared Sims. Sims is a saxophonist and flutist who has played alongside the likes of Cecil McBee, Stefon Harris, and Noel Gallagher. He has performed across multiple countries and continents and has played in many international jazz conferences. Having a musician of such caliber playing alongside them seemed to not only invigorate the high school band but push them even harder to shine just as brightly as Sims. 


At the conclusion of the concert, the theater erupted into a flood of applause. All of the band members, slightly damp with sweat after such a long and taxing night, stood and bowed alongside Sims and Seybert. Both the Jazz Lab and the Honors Jazz Band received a glowing standing ovation. John Krofcheck, the father of Edwin Krofcheck, said, “It’s amazing to see how much they have improved since they started playing in elementary school.”