Jazz Festival blows Western away

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Big brass sounds filled Potter Hall Feb. 13 as Missouri Western’s music department held its fourth annual Jazz Festival.

The festival was a day long event where middle and high schools would perform their interpretation of jazz for the audience and the adjudicators watching them.

The day was filled with a variety of jazz styles including the big band jazz sound from Winnetonka High School, and the heavy fusion of jazz and funk in the song “Getway,” played by the Sedalia Smith-Cotton High School Jazz Band.

The Missouri Western Jazz Orchestra, accompanied by featured vocalist Ashley Ackley , preforms as the headlining act at the Jazz Festival. Photo by Matt Fowler

Director of Jazz Studies, Professor Bob Long, said that the adjudication portion of the festival is the most important aspect of the event.

“The focus of this is to get time with the adjudicators. To get time to play for them and get the immediate feedback from the adjudicators,” Long said.

The adjudicators, David Kobberdahl and Dick Redman, would listen to the bands play their set, make comments on tape for them to listen to afterwards, and then go on stage with them to help better the band’s performance.

Their comments and suggestions for the bands varied including showing players how to better interpret the music that bands play live so that the audience will have a better experience.

“A lot of it is fundamentals. It is talking about articulation, about dynamics, and about style,” Redman said. “A lot of that will apply to everything that they play.”

Both band directors and band members did welcome the opportunity to be critiqued by Kobberdahl and Redman.
Student Lesley Moser, MWSU Lab Ensemble member, likes the help that they gave to her, like suggestions and ideas to help with musical chords.

“They were making a lot more sense how to put together the chord changes, make it sound more rhythmically,” Moser said.
Chad Lippincott, director of the jazz band at Central High school, saw the opportunity as good lesson for his students.

“It’s really invaluable because the students hear me talking about different aspect of playing and we rehearse every other day in class, but to hear these guys give their opinions and to have a different opinion from two guys who really know how to do it, it is a real valuable experience for the kids,” Lippincott said.

Kobberdahl works for the West Des Moines School District as a Jazz Ensemble Director and Instrumental Music Instructor. He also is in several bands including the Des Moines Big Band and Ashanti.

Redman is the Pella Community School District Director of Bands in Iowa. Under his direction, ensembles and its members have won national and state awards including Division I ratings in Iowa State Large Band and Jazz Band Contests.

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