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And all that jazz

By Staff | Jan 24, 2014

The Estherville Lincoln Central jazz band performed at the Iowa Lakes jazz contest Thursday. Photo by MIchael Tidemann

For as long as Laura Giebler has led Estherville Lincoln Central musicians to contests where they’ve received numerous awards, there has been a jazz band. And as long as there’s been a jazz band, there have been young musicians who have given everything they have.

“I just like the way it sounds,” said Colten Christensen who plays lead trumpet and flugelhorn, an instrument that looks like a large cornet with a sound somewhere between a trumpet and a French horn. Christensen said he really likes Hayburner, a Count Basie standard. “I just like the feel of it and the sound of it.”

Christensen enjoys playing lead this year, adding that he feels a big responsibility to match pitch and tempo with the rest of the band.

“It’s a little more relaxed – jazz is,” said Becca Lair, alto sax, who also likes Hayburner. “It’s just fun to play on the saxophone, I guess.” Lair is playing lead on two songs as well this year.

“You get more freedom,” said Alex Murillo, tenor sax. “I like the whole improvisation thing. That’s really fun too.”

It’s just a different style,” said Giebler. “It is more relaxed.”

Giebler said jazz also has just one person per part – rather than three or four in concert band. That means each individual contributes a lot more.

“It really provides the confidence in each student,” said Giebler. “They really have to step up and be that music.” She adds that there are a lot more opportunities to compete than with concert band.

Noting there is limited room for saxophones in jazz band, Lair said she played tenor her freshman year just so she could be in jazz band.

And it’s competitive. Giebler said the maximum number of saxes she will take in jazz band are three alto, three tenor and two bari.

Giebler has the musicians listen to a lot of music too, including Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Thad Jones.

“It’s a great group of seniors this year,” Giebler said. “They’re very workable seniors this year. They respect the underclassmen and want them to succeed too.”

“Iowa is just a really huge jazz state,” said Giebler. “This northwest area has been really competitive.”

The ELC jazz band will compete in the state jazz contest 7:45 p.m. Monday at the Sami Center in Spirit Lake. Giebler said ELC is also a wild card for the state jazz championships in March.