Jazz Coffee House Review


Maria Newton

Senior Jonah Hathaway and junior Noah Wright perform at the Jazz Coffee House concert. Both students are members of the jazz band led by band director Brad Wallace and choir director Brian Parrish. “Jazz was a genre of music that I wasn’t familiar with,” Wright said. “Being in Jazz Band has made me a better musician and has helped me to enjoy music even more.”

Maria Newton, Staff Writer

The annual Jazz Coffee House concert is one of the best showcases of the music program. This year, the casual event, intended to be more of a social gathering than a formal concert, featured the Jazz Choir, multiple Jazz Band combinations and Studio Jazz choir.

The Jazz Coffee House is a unique event in that it not only focuses on music, but on charity as well. Admission is five dollars or five canned food items and both are donated to the Parkway Food Pantry. Once inside the cafeteria where the concert is held, guests are free to load up a plate with cookies, brownies and other sweet treats in addition to a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. There was no shortage of food, and, therefore, no shortage of content high-schoolers.

The first ensemble to play was a Jazz Band combination featuring five musicians of all different instruments: drums, guitar, trumpet, saxophone and piano. There were three combinations throughout the night that were arranged in similar fashion. The Jazz Band program has flourished in the past few years, and the improvements were noticeable and impressive at the Coffee House. Strong improvised solos by all members in each combination led to audience applause. The energy and passion for music the band students have was visible as they nodded along to the solos of their bandmates.

Next was the Jazz Choir, a staple of West High that always produces a buzz of anticipation through the crowd when they step onto the risers and prepare to perform. The Jazz Coffee House was no exception, and the choir did not disappoint. Dazzling solos in pieces ranging from classic jazz to a cappella renditions of “We Found Love” by R&B artist Rihanna, the crowd struggled to take their attention away from the singers even to indulge in the coffee and treats.

The concert also featured the Studio Jazz Choir which is an all underclassmen group that meets once a week after school. They performed two songs that showcased many blossoming voices and a strong stage presence by the members. Because of limited time to learn new music, the choir performed “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow,” but in light of the recent spring snow shower St. Louis received, the audience did not mind.

Even though the directors prefaced the event as casual and encouraged attendees to get up, get food and enjoy themselves, people mostly stayed seated. Whether it was due to talented musicians or the unfamiliarity of being free to socialize during a concert, the audience remained hushed and still for the most part.

To wrap up the concert, the Jazz Band played three songs together big band style. Their final piece was high energy and featured six more improvised solos that were all extremely impressive. Following that, the Jazz Choir concluded the event with a beautiful performance of a song titled “Goodnight Sweetheart.”

Overall, the Jazz Coffee House was an amazing show of the talented jazz musicians that attend West. The night left many of the musician’s peers stunned and impressed, even if it was not as casual as the band and choir directors Brad Wallace and Brian Parrish promised or expected.

Pathfinder Rating 9.5/10