TCU's Jazz Fest is a growing tradition for the local music scene

Jarrod Schoenecker

Jarrod Schoenecker photo

TCU Senior Aidan Miland performs a solo as a part of the Minnesota Jazz Youth Ensemble during TCU’s Jazz Fest on March 14.

Last spring, blizzard conditions hampered an otherwise pleasant evening of jazz music that is Tri-City United High School’s Jazz Fest, which kept Cleveland High School away from performing for the event.

This year’s Jazz Fest, held Thursday, March 14 in the high school performing arts center, was host to five acts — up from last year’s two acts.

Cleveland High School opened the show with their Tuesday Jazz band followed by their Blue Jazz band. Tri-City United High School’s Jazz Band took the stage and was followed by the Minnesota Youth Jazz Band. Ending the night was professional jazz quintet IRIS from Chicago, Ill.

IRIS is comprised of members, mostly fresh out of graduate school at Northern Illinois University and includes Austyn Menk, a TCU High School graduate. IRIS played some of their own originals and some classics. They also had CDs available after the show, ahead of their new self-titled album coming out in May. Look for a story next week on the new album.

The Minnesota Youth Jazz Band’s (MYJB) High School Jazz Band 1 performed an energetic set, including solos by TCU Senior Aidan Miland, who is a part of the ensemble. They are an auditioned group that has multiple jazz bands for different levels and hold their practices in the Twin Cities. Miland was the one who invited and encouraged the ensemble to come and play TCU’s Jazz Fest.

Crowd favorite solos of the night included Miland’s saxophone solos, both within the MYJB and with TCU’s Jazz Band. In fact, Miland performed a lengthy solo as a part of the TCU Jazz Band within the song “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” arrangement by Alan Baylock, that had incredible stuttered vibrato with smooth interludes that were reminiscent of the Pink Panther theme song.

Cleveland student Madysen Seely sang a solo piece “Cry Me A River” with Cleveland High School’s Blue Jazz Band. Seely worked with Anya Menk, sister of Austyn Menk of IRIS, to fine-tune her song. Anya Menk was a student teacher at Cleveland last school year and where Seely knew her from. For someone who was afraid to sing in front of crowds...

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