On May 22, the Bellevue College jazz band will be having its spring concert, along with an additional show on May 21 with Terell Stafford. The band has been rehearsing and preparing all year leading up to these shows.
“We’re constantly preparing. We keep adding new literature to our rotation of performing tunes. One of my focuses at the college is to get as much music in front of the students as possible, so we can learn to deal with reading at the highest level as possible, and trying to get them as many professional performing opportunities as possible,” said Jim Sisko, jazz band director.
Miles Tuncel, a tenor sax player in the jazz band and a Running Start student at BC explained how he believes the band has come a long way as a whole since the beginning of the year. “We definitely get more comfortable with each other every time we play together.” He added that the charts the band will be playing at the spring concert are a culmination of the band’s favorite pieces, some they’ve played with guest artists at Tula’s, a jazz club in downtown Seattle. “They’re the highlights of all the music we’ve been playing this year.”
In addition to these shows, the jazz band has been participating in festivals like the annual BC Jazz Band Festival, bringing lots of bands from colleges in the area including the University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University and Central Washington University to join. The festival also brings middle schools and high schools into the mix – Sisko explained that the most important upcoming event is the band’s trip to New Orleans. We’re going to be having some workshops at Loyola University and we’re going to be doing some traditional New Orleans workshop with four local New Orleans musicians. [We will be] teaching the students all about traditional New Orleans style jazz,” he said. The band will also be both watching performances and performing at the U.S. Mint, which is the jazz history center of New Orleans.
Another big thing the jazz band has been working on this year is their very first CD project, in collaboration with audio engineering students. “[The jazz band is] doing that in the school, in our studio, with me and a few of my advanced engineering students. So they come in here and the place is full of people, and we’re trying to get it so we’re intertwining more of our recording arts stuff with some of the performance groups on campus. That was kind of the goal behind it. They want to make records, and we can help them do it. So that’s kind of the relationship that exists there,” explained Kelly Kunz, audio engineering production instructor.
The jazz band performs monthly at Tula’s on the second Wednesday of every month. “We work with guest artists every month. We have a cycle of artists who play with us and do a workshop rehearsal with us so the students get to meet the Seattle area pros,” said Sisko. The jazz band reads and plays at least a hundred pieces every year, preparing and performing around sixty.