Matt Harris joins jazz bands for Jazz Night


Jazz performance in 2013. Photo by Morgan Berk

Brett Stover

Mic Gillette solos during the Rock Bridge Jazz Ensemble's set. Gillette played with each school band at the concert: groups from Oakland, West, Jeff, Hickman and Rock Bridge. Photo by Asa Lory
Mic Gillette plays with the RBHS Jazz Ensemble during last year’s CPS Jazz Night. Pianist Matt Harris will guest star in this year’s addition. Photo by Asa Lory
Tonight, the district will welcome another famous musician to perform with its jazz ensembles. The annual CPS Jazz Night will be held 7:30 tonight, April 2 at Battle High School. This year’s guest artist is pianist Matt Harris. Tickets are $3 at the door.
Harris, who has performed with jazz greats like famous drummer Buddy Rich, is also a composer and has written music for numerous companies, including a jingle for Taco Bell. He rehearsed with each high school jazz group earlier this week, including RBHS’s own Jazz Band and Jazz Ensemble. Playing with experienced musicians like Harris presents a valuable opportunity for musicians in high school.
“I think it’s really cool that you can get someone who has so much experience playing with other really good players and can share that sort of style with people like high schoolers,” senior pianist Espther Liu said, and that Harris taught about “professionalism in music and how it’s really important to know your part.”
While Liu plays piano like Harris, other young jazz musicians who play other instruments have been able to gain insight from him as well. Junior trombonist Matt Orf agrees that Harris’ experience is important to high school students.
“The artists who come in have pursued careers in music and really display the potential of what us students could achieve while also inspiring us to pursue a career in music,” Orf said. “The most important thing that I’ve learned from Matt Harris is that not only can you continue in music after high school, but if you put the effort in, you can make a career of it.”
By Brett Stover
Have you heard the RB Jazz Band or Jazz Ensemble? What is your favorite son they perform?