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RHS Jazz I Performs Magnificently at NJAJE Region II State Finals

Jane Doran
RHS Jazz I competed well at the NJAJE Region II State Jazz Finals, held at Princeton High School on Saturday, April 27.

Despite not taking home any awards, the RHS Jazz I band competed brilliantly in the NJAJE Region II State Jazz Finals, held at Princeton High School on Saturday, April 27.

RHS was one of only 10 ensembles in Region II, which is determined by school size, to become state finalists. This distinction is a high honor, with only 28 ensembles in New Jersey qualifying out of over 50 who attempted this venture during preliminaries.

“Just to be part of the top 10 jazz bands in the state is a great honor,” Jazz I Director Nick Fantazzi said. “I could not be more proud of the students.”

Jazz I presented a dynamic and diverse set for their final performance of the year. The opener, “It’s Oh, So Nice” by Sammy Nestico, featured sophomore trombonist Gregory Ford, who skillfully conveyed the heavy swing feel of the piece.

The next ballad, “ ’Round Midnight” by Jessica Williams and Thelonious Monk, arranged by Dave Barduhn, highlighted senior trumpet player Kevin Tish.

The band closed their performance with the Latin piece, “Spain” by Chick Corea, arranged by Paul Jennings. This song highlighted sophomore trumpet player Jonah Davidson, sophomore alto saxophone player Katelyn Ford, Gregory Ford, senior bass player Kavin Chandrasena, sophomore piano player Eli Kahn and senior drummer Ben Herring.

“I think our performance at State Finals was our best of the year,” Fantazzi said.  “We practiced relentlessly all year long on this music, and our hard work paid off with a great performance.”

Along with weekly practices leading up to the festival, the ensemble had the opportunity to take a clinic with Ron Kerber, a professional saxophonist from Philadelphia, which band members said helped them feel well prepared for their upcoming performance.

“This performance was really special to me because I got to spend the day with all my friends, playing music that I love no matter the outcome of the performance,” senior Ben Herring reflected. “It was even more special that my last one was at State Finals.”

With the conclusion of the jazz performance season, the ensemble said goodbye to graduating seniors Kavin Chandrasena, Ben Herring, Anton Mendoza and Kevin Tish.

The remaining members of the band aspire to land in the State Finals once again in the upcoming 2024-2025 season.

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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