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NBHS Jazz Ensemble continues to succeed, win top awards

NBHS Jazz Ensemble

The NBHS Jazz Band took 1st place at the 55th annual Fiesta Jazz Festival on April 29 at St. Mary’s University. The festival featured 23 jazz bands from around the state.

Under the direction of David Eckert, the band scored a 97.33 out of 100. In addition to the band’s 1st place achievement, senior Chris Bauer was selected as the festival’s “Outstanding Student Performer”.

With the high achievements wrapping up this year’s competitive season, Eckert reflects on the jazz program’s progress made over the years.

“When I first started working in New Braunfels nine years ago, the jazz band did not exist. There was a volunteer ensemble, but they only rehearsed a few times a year and only played a single song at the solo and ensemble competition in February,” said Eckert.

From its humble beginnings, the jazz program has grown into its own class at the high school, with a full roster of award-winning performers that play a calendar full of contests and festivals.

Eckert added that the students have continuously been committed to the lengthy process of understanding and “speaking” the musical language that is jazz and that their hard work is paying dividends.

“The band has now immersed themselves in the genre and are playing at a very high level. We're playing charts now that are are designed for college bands and professional ensembles - and we're playing them ridiculously well.”

It seems there are no bounds for the program, with a new jazz band at the NBHS Ninth Grade Center finding ground and talks of a second jazz band at the high school.

“All I know is that for as long I am in New Braunfels, the Unicorns will be swingin' as hard as we possibly can. It's nice to be able to share this great art form with a whole new generation, and hopefully it's as fun and rewarding for them as it is for me.”

The band will perform an encore of this year's award-winning program on May 18 at the NBHS auditorium. The concert will kick off at 6:30 p.m. with the Steel Band followed by the NBHS Percussion and the NGC Jazz Band. The NBHS Jazz Band will close the concert with their contest set and a variety of other great jazz charts.

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