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Sensational Second Annual Jazz Night at Shake

01 March 2017
Last Saturday, the Duke Wellington Orchestra made their triumphant return to the stage, playing host to their second Wellington College Jazz Night. The very talented and enthusiastic line-up was as follows: Serena on drums, Justin on cello, Ken on piano, Jackson on trumpet and Joseph on the alto saxophone. They were also ably supported by Mr Nick Muzyczka on bass ukulele. The band quickly settled into their slightly roomier yet intimate surroundings at Shake, a relatively new jazz club on Mao Ming Road but one which has already built itself a sterling reputation for live jazz in the city. Parents, teachers and other ardent fans were looking on in eager anticipation, keen to hear what the band could pull out of their musical box of tricks this year. Naturally, they didn’t disappoint, smoothly hitting their stride with Speak no Evil by Wayne Shorter and Cantaloupe Island by Herbie Hancock in the first and second sets, before turning up the tempo in the final set with a lively rendition of Black Orpheus by Luiz Bonfa. As is only proper for a thrilling performance, the band had saved the best for last; launching into Mister Magic by Grover Washington Jnr with a delightful blend of confident artistry and vibrant energy. As the piece progressed, it was entirely evident that all of the band members were having the time of their lives; sporting huge smiles as they took it in turns to deliver outstanding solos one after another, with the kind of “friendly rivalry” that only jazz allows for. Mr Muzyczka even confessed to me after the show that he wasn’t quite sure when the final piece would end; such is the organic nature of well-played and thoroughly entertaining jazz: it ends whenever it ends! It was clear that the band had rehearsed diligently in preparation for the event, performing each piece with accomplished precision but also with feeling, as they drew inspiration from one another. As the band’s pianist, Ken, explained to me: This year was so much better, even though last year was fantastic too. This year we had much more time to prepare and get comfortable playing with one another, and it all came together on the night. That’s the thing about jazz: it’s all about inspiration, it’s about getting inspired in the moment and just going with it. Sadly, at the end of this year the band will say goodbye to the band’s saxophonist, Joseph, as he completes Year 13 and finishes his time at Wellington College. However, as this year’s performance demonstrates, new entrants to the band continue to give it an ever-evolving sound that’s fresh and exciting each time, much like the music genre that they play so passionately. Commenting on the night, Mr Sam Mulliner was rightly thrilled by the band’s performance and noted the difference made by the change in venue: It’s so important for the pupils to be able to perform in a venue appropriate for the kind of music that they’re playing. Tonight, they just came alive by performing in a venue where consummate jazz professionals had played before them. The fact that they performed so confidently and made amazing, organic jazz with a smile on their faces showed the audience just how much they love what they are doing. That’s what making music at Wellington is all about. Make sure to join us next year to discover how the band will continue to refine their sound and no doubt deliver another outstanding evening of jazz.