RANDOLPH,NJ- The Randolph High School Commons held the Second Annual Jazz Coffee House Wednesday, Jan. 29. The high school and middle school jazz ensemble performed musical numbers from American composer, Edward Kennedy, “Duke” Ellington and others.
“He’s the greatest American composer of all time,” said band director, Dave Miller. “He’s got so much material and was in the business for over 50 years.”
The night’s performers consisted of three separate jazz ensemble groups: Jazz ensemble one that is made up of the top high school musicians, jazz ensemble two that are also high school level performers and the combo, which is the middle school ensemble.
"We’re very lucky in Randolph to have a middle school jazz ensemble at all to give students experience before they get to high school,” said second year teacher and co-director of jazz ensemble two, Tom Davidson.
Most districts do not have a jazz ensemble program in middle school. Generally, a student’s first experience with jazz is once he/she enters the high school.
“A solid program down there in the middle school enables the program to be much stronger in here at the high school,” said Davidson.
Middle school and high school family members filled the high school’s main lobby to enjoy an all you can eat dessert bar that included beverages from hot coffee to water. The middle school jazz ensemble’s introduction to Journey's “Don’t Stop Believin” set a perfect mood to the night.
Admission to the event was $5 at the door. All the money collected that night helps fund future band events. The money also goes towards new instruments that the band might be in need of such as a new keyboard.
The Randolph Rotary Club donated the event’s coffee. Rotary members volunteer their time and resources to help others in their local communities. Students along with the help of their parents baked the desserts of the night.
“It’s really cool,” Miller said. “The kids put a lot of time into it and they did a great job. There’s so much at the dessert table.”
The two high school jazz ensembles rehearse at the same time once a week for two hours on Wednesdays. The middle school combo rehearses outside of the regular school time for an extra half an hour.
“For the level they’re at its pretty impressive for a once a week rehearsal.”
Kristen Siebenhuhner directs the middle school ensemble. She teaches at the middle school as well as the high school. Tom Davidson also teaches at both schools. Dave Miller teaches at two of the four Randolph Elementary Schools during the day.
“Dave Miller is a professional jazz musician on top of being a teacher. He’s the guy to teach the best jazz ensemble,” said Davidson.
The night was a success and joy for all those who attended, as evidenced by the cheers which followed every performance.