Jazz Ensemble Places Third in Region at Chantilly Jazz Festival

Last minute calls containing an important message were made the evening of Sat., March 28 to all the members of the WJ Jazz Ensemble. Because the band had done so well earlier that morning at the 29th Annual Chantilly Jazz Festival, they were invited back to compete later that evening in a Battle of the Bands with the top three bands in the region. Within a time span of only several hours, the entire Jazz band had to organize transportation back to Chantilly, Va. to perform again.

However, the chaos of performing a second time at the last minute did not stop the Jazz Ensemble from putting on a notable performance, for which they were awarded third place. The Jazz Ensemble overall received three superior ratings of ones at the Chantilly Jazz Invitational.  Jazz ensembles representing over two dozen schools from Va., Md., W. Va. and N. C. competed for scholarships and prizes in the combo and big band divisions.

Competition of this sort was new to Jazz band conducter Christopher Kosmaceski. “We’ve never done this before. It was a little stressful to make sure that everyone got there on time, but the energy in the evening performance was great.”

Despite receiving such high marks, some members initially were skeptical about their morning performance at Chantilly.

“I was very surprised we got straight ones at Chantilly,” said senior jazz ensemble member Michael Cowan. “When we played again I thought we played much better at the Battle of the Bands than earlier in the day. I was very surprised that the judges rated us so well.”

Members of the Jazz Ensemble are not unfamiliar with success. They received a superior rating of straight ones at the County Festival performance.

“Jazz band is a little more exclusive than larger orchestral groups. It is a little harder to get into than other bands so some of the best instrument players are in jazz band,” said senior jazz ensemble trumpeter Patrick Durbin.

Kosmaceski hopes this year’s success will transition into success next year and also noted that WJ’s Jazz Ensemble will be recognized every subsequent year by the Chantilly Jazz Invitational as one of the top three bands in 2009.

“Hopefully, we’ll get second or first next year,” said Kosmaceski. “Also. . .next year we will be listed as one of the top three schools, and so on for as long as the festival is in existence. So I think [the jazz ensemble] created a legacy.”