Performing in Chantilly High’s annual Jazz & Pizzazz show is more than being a student entertaining the community; it’s also about carrying on a tradition for more than a quarter of a century.
“It’s a combination of a ton of people working together to make something neat,” said trombone player Aaron Smith. “The audience gets the entire band and show choir, and it just adds up to a great show.”
The senior said a lot of effort goes into Jazz & Pizzazz but, when it’s done, the performers are happy to have been in it. He chose trombone as his instrument because “it’s just fun to play.” His favorite number is “Blackbird” because of “the way it’s arranged and changed into more of a funky tune.”
A trumpet player since fifth grade, senior Matt Calvert says its “big, wailing melody” drew him in. It’s his fourth year in Jazz & Pizzazz and he loves it. “The jazz band has been solid for so many years at Chantilly, and it’s awesome to get to perform in front of that many people.”
He especially likes the song, “Another Life,” because “it’s a slow, Latin number and all the power chords just make you melt. It also features Austin Stahle on electric guitar, and he’s phenomenal.”
Junior Paul Lee plays percussion and is excited about Jazz & Pizzazz. “I loved watching the previous shows and now I’ll be in it,” he said. “I like ‘North Shore Evening’ because it has a different feel; it’s jazz and relaxes you. But I like ‘Children of Sanchez,’ too, because it’s really aggressive and excites you.”
Senior Ryan Doherty originally took up trombone because he liked the slide. Now, he said, “I like all the sounds I can get out of it. In one number, I even make a sound like a B27 bomber — it’s really cool. My favorite number is ‘Green-Eyed Groove’ because a good friend of mine, Alan Baylock, wrote it. And there are moments that build up to a huge impact.”
Also a trombonist, senior David Bevins likes the instrument’s versatility. “You can play classical, jazz or pop — it sounds good in any genre,” he said. “I especially like ‘Symphony in Riffs.’ It’s a Duke Ellington chart and, as the piece goes from start to finish, it highlights each section of the band and leads to a huge finish involving everybody.”
It’s also his fourth year in Jazz & Pizzazz and, said Bevins, “The audience will like the different styles of music ranging from jazz to funk to choir ballads with band backup, plus solos of the new, hot songs.
In ShowStoppers, senior Ralph Chambati is a tenor who likes “all the lighting and cool effects that go on while we’re singing. It’s like on TV, except it’s live in front of the audience. It takes awhile to learn all the dance moves but, in the end, we know exactly what we’re doing.”
His favorite song is “Safety Dance,” sung by the boys only. “We suggested it, and one of our choir members, Gray O’Reilly, choreographed it,” said Chambati. “We have fun while doing nice dance moves and vocals.”
Also a tenor, senior Wesley Coleman is in his second year in show choir and Jazz & Pizzazz; he’s also helped out backstage on stage crew. He loves being in the show and calls it “one of my favorite parts of the year. It’s that big shebang and the cherry on top of everything.”
“It all comes together nicely and really closes out the year for the seniors because it’s our last time performing on the Chantilly stage,” continued Coleman. “I’ve been with most of these guys in choir for four years and we’ve grown like one, big family.”
He likes ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ best because “I’m a rock-and-roll guy and it’s fast-paced and has a heavy guitar riff and nice bass lines, warm brass underneath and tight vocal harmonies. And it was choreographed by two alumni, Brynn Harper and Lauren So.”
Sophomore Lindsay Steinberg is a soprano who enjoys performing and “seeing the smiles of the audience members and how Jazz & Pizzazz brings the community together to see this show each year.” She especially likes “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera.
“It was student-choreographed by Emily Meiburg, and we get to be sassy while performing it,” said Steinberg. “Overall, it’s a really fun show for the whole family.”
As for alto Taylor Newby, the junior is a former varsity cheerleader and gymnast. “I always loved performing before big crowds, but always had a special place in my heart for singing,” she said. “So in my freshman year, I also joined choir.” Her favorite number is “Sway,” a partner dance. “It’s swing and jazz and a different style of music than most people are used to,” she said.”
Newby called Jazz & Pizzazz a “cool show because it’s for all ages in an energetic setting. People will love the combination of singing and dancing, and there’s an audience-participation number, so they’ll get to dance and be involved in the show, too.”