The Hawthorn Middle South Jazz Band played in concert on Wednesday, March 7th on the Vernon Hills High School auditorium stage to an appreciative audience, showing again that Jazz is alive and well in our schools.

The Jazz Band is a volunteer group that meets before school for about 1 hour per week.   The group this year is comprised of 41 interested 6th, 7th and 8th grade band students as well as a couple of orchestra members playing string bass.  

The group has performed diverse selections in the in recent years, including jazz-rock pieces, blues, and modern jazz.  This year’s selections were from a prominent period in jazz known as the Swing Era, which saw the rise of some of America’s best known popular song forms.  The band opened with the lightly swinging “Bye Bye Blackbird” which set a nice inviting mood to Middle South’s set.  Staying with the swing style, but adding a little more uptempo energy, the band played the George & Ira Gershwin classic “Our Love Is Here To Stay”.  This piece was performed in the Count Basie style, and contained wonderful melodies handed around to every section of the band.  Great piano solos, strong section playing and an energetic drive from the rhythm section really connected with the audience, and the band received warm rounds of applause on a music-filled evening.

The evening included performances by the Middle North Jazz Band, and two jazz groups from VHHS.  The evening’s finale brought all the high school musicians (many former Middle South band members) and the combined Middle South/Middle North 8th graders together for one mass performance of Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island”.  

It was a joy to hear everyone making great music, and even more fun for the band members to hear what awaits them in high school!  Congratulations to all the performers last night – well done!