Behind the EEU’s Big Band Blowout 2019


Rylee Allen

Pictured here is Jazz 1 performing at the 2019 Big Band Blowout with guest artist James Carter, centered.

A swarm of bustling sound fills the Esperanza band room. Everyone is in heavy preparation for their last jazz concert of the year- the Big Band Blowout.

Director Brad Davis has the students preparing not only for the concert, but for the rehearsal with James Carter. According to Davis, guest artist James Carter will elicit “the entire spectrum of emotions,” at the 2019 Big Band Blowout.

Although the friends, family and alumni only ever see the physical performance, a lot goes on behind the scenes to pull the concert together.

Chris Schumerth, junior and bari sax player for Jazz II, says that they have about a month to prepare the new set. “Our band learns 3 to 4 new tunes,” Schumerth says, “We prepare for the Big Band Blowout with… rehearsals during school hours.”

What others might see as work, however, Schumerth notes that the jazz students are more excited than ever because the annual concert always includes a guest artist. This year, the guest artist is James Carter; a world-renowned tenor saxophonist and composer.

“I am extremely excited to play with James Carter. He is a fantastic musician and one of my favorite artists.” says Schumerth. Although he does tout that his favorite guest artist so far was Wycliffe Gordon, trombonist and composer that was featured in the 2018 Big Band Blowout.

Colin Wu, senior and bari sax player for Jazz I, adds that the top band is playing six songs. “Some of them are tunes that we have played before, but there are at least three tunes that are new and they aren’t the easiest charts.”

Not only do all three Esperanza Jazz Bands play, but local Bernardo Yorba Middle School’s jazz band also participates in the concert. Mrs. Watson, who recently retired two years ago, has since had her position filled by Mrs. Neumayr. “The Bernardo band has gotten way better,” says Davis. Although it is a lot of work to have Bernardo join the BBB, the opportunity and reward outweighs any of the tribulations the programs, students and directors go through in order to make it all happen.

The final rehearsal was an after school one on Thursday, May 23rd. Mrs. Neumayr and the Bernardo jazz band rehearsed with James Carter at 4 PM, Jazz II rehearsed at 5, and Jazz I rehearsed at 6.

The concert debuted the following day, Friday, May 24th, at the El Dorado Performing Arts Center. The Big Band Blowout draws a crowd of current students, alumni, music lovers, friends and family- and it does so for a reason.