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RHS Jazz I Ensemble Wins Multiple Awards at NJAJE State Preliminary Jazz Band Festival

Bands of Randolph
RHS Jazz I performs at Liberty Middle School in West Orange at the NJAJE Jazz Band Festival preliminaries on Monday, March 4.

The RHS Jazz I Ensemble took home a silver rating, along with an Outstanding Soloist award for senior drummer Ben Herring, at the five-day-long New Jersey Association for Jazz Education (NJAJE) State Preliminary Jazz Band Festival.

The RHS ensemble performed at Liberty Middle School in West Orange on March 4. The high rating qualified the band for the upcoming finals, where they’ll perform against the best ensembles in the state on Saturday, April 27.

“When they said Randolph and then my name, I got the wind knocked out of me,” Herring recalled of his March 4 win. “It was honestly a surreal experience getting to win an award for playing in a room with such talented musicians.”

“I was very proud of our student’s performance at the jazz festival,” said Nick Fantazzi, RHS band director. “They played with energy and excitement. Their hard work has been paying off.”

Under the direction of Fantazzi, Jazz I performed three jazz charts for the adjudicators and competing bands. They opened with “Salt Peanuts” by Dizzy Gillespie, featuring sophomore Katelyn Ford on alto saxophone, sophomore Jonah Davidson on trumpet and senior drummer Ben Herring. The ballad “A Child is Born” by Thad Jones highlighted senior Kevin Tish on flugelhorn, and the closing piece, “Manteca” by Dizzy Gillespie, featured junior Hayley Ross on tenor saxophone and sophomore Eli Kahn on piano.

The festival is a culmination of many months of practice for the ensemble. With weekly rehearsals limited to Wednesday nights, the band only had two hours a week together to practice their charts.

Following the preliminary round, the bands who moved on to the finals were released. Jazz I was one of the 10 top bands in Division II, determined by school size, to score high enough to proceed. The NJAJE State Finals host bands from all over the state from all five nights of the preliminary festival in an even more elevated competition.

“It was a fun experience,” junior tenor saxophone Hayley Ross stated. “We got to watch other bands and develop as musicians through reading, performing, listening to other bands, and bonding during the competition.”

Editor’s Note: Look out for the upcoming annual Spring Jazz Concert, featuring RMS Jazz, RHS Jazz II and RHS Jazz I, and an exciting guest artist, on Wednesday, April 24 at 7 p.m.

About the Contributor
Jane Doran
Jane Doran, Staff Reporter
Sophomore Jane Doran is eager for her first year on Rampage as a Staff Reporter in addition to being enrolled in Mrs. Finnell’s Journalism I class. Outside of writing articles, Jane swims for the RHS Girls Swim Team and coaches younger age groups for her club team. When she is not swimming, Jane is involved with the Marching Rams as a Drum Major and plays alto saxophone. Jane is excited to write about Visual and Performing Arts as well as Sports. 
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