District Jazz Concert wows crowd

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The District Jazz Concert, held Feb. 23 at Liberty Middle School, played to a full house of appreciative family and community members who came away in awe of the musical talent in the West Orange School District.

Students in grades six through 12 performed in the annual jazz concert with their schools’ jazz bands. The jazz bands practice regularly after school with band teachers Joe Romano at Edison Middle School, Ryan Krewer at Liberty Middle School, Roger Bryson at Roosevelt Middle School, and Josh Zimmer and Lew Kelly at West Orange High School.

The Edison Knights jazz band opened the evening with renditions of “Jammin’ with Charlie” and “C Jam Blues.”

“Our whole family came to hear our son, Taylor Brown, who is in the Edison jazz band,” sixth-grade parent Caroline Cole said in a press release. “They were on first, and we planned on leaving after their set. They were very good. My husband and I were impressed. Then we decided to stay to hear ‘Uptown Funk’ and wound up staying for the whole concert.”

The Roosevelt Roughriders entertained with “Bubbert Goes Undercover” and the popular “Uptown Funk.” The Liberty Jazz performed “Superstition” and “Aztec Warrior,” written and arranged by Ryan Krewer. The Liberty Lion Jazz took on “Libertango” and “In the Mood.”

The high school Jazz I and Jazz II then took to the stage, with Jazz I performing “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” “Misty” and “Hurricane Season.” Musicians in all bands soloed throughout the evening.

Jazz II, which also performs competitively, brought their talents to the stage with “Go East, Young Man,” “Georgia on My Mind” and “Chameleon,” which closed the evening amid cheers and applause.

“The concert completely blew us away,” Cole continued. “There are so many talented students in the West Orange music program and it’s clear the teachers are igniting the passion of music in the children. I am very thankful that the arts and music programs are thriving in our schools.”

Sangeeta Badlani of the Nikhil Badlani Foundation agreed.

“I love coming to these concerts to see the kids and to watch the progression of performances from sixth grade through high school,” Badlani said. “Our students and teachers are just incredible.”