Naperville Central jazz bands play at Frankie’s Blue Room for first time

Freja Sonnichsen

The air was hot but the jazz was cool as Naperville Central’s very own Jazz Band and Jazz Studio Orchestra (JSO) took the stage for the first time ever at Frankie’s Blue Room in Downtown Naperville. The two bands opened for the professional horn ensemble, Brass From the Past.

“I’ve called this venue every year, sometimes multiple times. I’ve even walked over here at one point,” said DJ Alstadt, the director of JSO. “There are these very prestigious clubs in Chicago, around the country and even around the world that we’ve played with the jazz bands. Still, I’ve not been able to get our ensemble into here. But sometimes, persistence pays off.”

The Central bands were only allowed to play in the venue when the headliner for the night asked specifically for any interested high school jazz bands in the area. After receiving a call from a member of Brass From the Past, Alstadt quickly accepted the offer.

Although the bands didn’t have the opportunity to perform a sound check prior to the performance, Alstadt is satisfied with the groups’ performances.

“I felt like [JSO] brought a lot of energy, intensity and thoughtfulness to every phrase that they played tonight,” Alstadt said. “Are we done with the rehearsal process? Absolutely not. But they came in very prepared tonight and gave an excellent representation of the school and I’m thrilled about how much they care about the art form of jazz and the connections they make with people through the music.”

The night featured several solos from a variety of players and instruments, including senior and JSO drummer Matt Paras with a solo in Buddy Rich’s “Channel 1 Suite.”

“I’ve listened to that Buddy Rich song about 100 times; I know the song by heart. I don’t even use the music,” Paras said. “It’s really intimidating trying to play Buddy Rich and what he does, so I went on my own tangent. It’s impossible to figure out what he’s doing because it goes by so fast. I decided to mix it up. I wasn’t really thinking about what was going on in the moment.”

Performances between now and March, when the jazz season ends, are still to be determined. Check back with Central Times to find out when the next performance is.