Student bands converge on first National Jazz Festival

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Students from 11 states packed up their instruments and headed to the Pennsylvania Convention Center for the first-ever National Jazz Festival, and the first group to perform was from West Chester, Pennsylvania.

The Jazz Mavericks from the Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School kicked things off, then got some pointers from jazz pros in a private room. 

“What’s kind of neat about this is that it’s kind of halfway between being a festival and being like a convention,” said PLCS music teacher Tom West. “Typically when you go to a festival, it’s just in an auditorium somewhere.”

West said the individualized approach helps the kids learn more.

Jazz Mavericks senior Markeish Williams was laying down funky grooves on the bass guitar. “I feel more in power of what I’m playing and more in control of the band that way,” he shared. “Not saying I want more control with the band, but you do feel the power of your instrument.”

Williams said he was looking to make the most of the opportunity the festival presented. “With the feedback that we get from the adjuicators,” he said, “I will apply that to what I’m doing and how I can improve as a whole.”

Harvey Highland, one of the festival administrators, said he hopes this is the beginning of something beautiful.

“Hopefully it will grow as the years go on and more states throughout the country will be involved.”


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