Bands perform at Jazz Café 2015

A blanket of silence falls over the dimly lit cafeteria. A few rhythmic snaps accompanied by a whisper of, “one… two… a one, two three,” and the room explodes with the sound of brass, bass and set drums. The Jazz Café is underway.

On Saturday Dec. 12, West High’s jazz bands came together in a festively decorated cafeteria to perform what they worked on this year. All three bands also had a chance to play with the guest saxophonist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown.

Lefkowitz-Brown himself finds the origins of his musical career in a similar situation.

“When I was this age, there were a lot of special guest artists that I got to work with, and it inspired me. It was part of the reason I decided I wanted to play music for my life,” Lefkowitz-Brown said. “I like to give back, and it’s fun for me to get to be the guest artist after all that time.”

Lefkowitz-Brown cites other reasons he likes to come back and clinic with school bands as well. “Students are so open to learning and so excited to learn and you can help them progress not only as musicians, but as thinkers,” he said.

Lefkowitz-Brown began playing saxophone as a child and started soloing with local bands at age 11.

“It amazes me how Chad only practiced with us for over an hour. But when playing, it sounded like he had been practicing with us for months,” said Sean Chi ’17.

Chi is a member of Jazz Ensemble, one of three jazz bands at West. Although West has the opportunity for students to be part of one of the three bands, Lefkowitz-Brown’s high school jazz program didn’t have nearly as many options.

“In the band program where I grew up we had just one jazz band, and so I was really surprised when I found out there were three jazz bands here,” Lefkowitz-Brown said. “It was amazing.”

Unlike most concerts the bands usually play in, the Jazz Café is laid back and casual, with appropriate lighting, decorations and refreshments.

“Jazz Café is a super relaxed concert where all you need to do is enjoy yourself,” Chi said.

Chi and Lefkowitz-Brown weren’t the only two to enjoy themselves on this special occasion.

“The Jazz Café is a really wonderful experience- it’s the first jazz concert of the year and the way they decorate for it makes the jazz feel even better.” said Ned Furlong ’17. “I also loved the opportunity to share the [music] we work on and I love [that] my friends who aren’t in jazz band … are able to come to this concert.”