Jazzifying Friday mornings

Reece H., Staff Writer

The ICA Jazz Messengers, directed by Dr. Frank Hansen, have been serenading the Commack community for over 20 years.

Hansen named his jazz ensemble after the legendary jazz group, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Art Blakey, a well known jazz drummer in the late 1940’s, recruited talented young musicians from around the world to play in his band. 

“Every few years, these musicians would leave the group and a new batch of young musicians would be sought after with Blakey being the constant. [The Jazz Messengers] have become an example of how small jazz groups operate. It was fitting for me to name our group after [them],”  said Hansen, in an email.

The musicians that perform for the ICA Jazz Messengers are selected in a very similar way. They are asked to join the group by Hansen based on their skills. Hansen keeps specific traits in mind when scouting out talent. For example, he focuses on improvisation and sight reading music, which is the ability to play a piece for the first time, without practice and without prior knowledge of the notes or rhythms.

“Sometimes Hansen will post something on the [Google Classroom] for us to look at and play. It [the melodies] usually involve our singer, Sam R., so it isn’t too difficult to sight read. We use ‘The Real Book’ for our archive of tunes, and the majority of the time is spent improvising,” said sophomore Shubhan R.

Every Friday morning, the Messengers set up in the lobby and perform for students and staff as they enter the building. The Messengers have no organized rehearsals, as the lobby performances are the only times they are together.

“The Jazz Messengers are different than any other music ensembles at CHS, in that the rehearsal is the performance. I needed to find a time and place to make that concept happen. A steady lobby performance made the most sense at the time and now has become a part of the culture [at the high school] ,” said Hansen.🔳