RFA Jazz Band concert Tuesday

The RFA Jazz Band presents its annual concert on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Rome Free Academy auditorium. Admission is free, but donations "will be gratefully appreciated."

Along with the jazz band, the concert will feature performances by the Strough Jazz Band, The RFA Jazz Voices, and the RFA Jazz Band Alumni.

This school year was busy for the Jazz Band. The band toured Rome’s elementary schools and Strough in January. It earned a Gold rating in the AA class at the Fonda-Fultonville Jazz Festival in February. Most recently, the group performed alongside comedians Dave & Brian at the Capitol Theatre. "Dave [Hopping] is an alumnus of the RFA Jazz Band — we were in the trombone section together — so when they booked the show at the Capitol, he contacted me to collaborate," said Director Jake Meiss.

This year the jazz band swelled to larger-than-usual numbers. "We almost have enough players for two bands," Meiss says. The group is open to all, and many students pick up a new instrument so they can participate in jazz band. "I’m glad the students are having a good time with it."

The RFA Jazz Band will be playing some of its standard favorites, as well as some new selections. The group will perform this year’s Fonda-Fultonville Jazz festival pieces and several other pieces which are new to the group. "Now that some of the students have been in the jazz band for three years, we realized we needed some new repertoire," the director said. The band incorporated tunes such as "Sing, Sing, Sing," "Coconut Champagne" and the Stan Kenton arrangement of "Body and Soul" into its standard repertoire this year.

The jazz concert will also include performances by the RFA Jazz Voices, under the direction of Mrs. Twyla Edwards. That group will be singing "New York Afternoon" by Richie Cole, "The Way You Look Tonight" by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, "Route 66" by Bobby Troup, "This Little Light of Mine," and "Miss Otis Regrets" by Norm Wallen. Coming off of "a very successful performance" at the Lemoyne Jazz Festival with choral arranger Kirby Shaw, they are excited to perform back on their home stage.

RFA’s Vocal and Instrumental jazz programs will be collaborating on a few tunes. "It Had Better Be Tonight" will include all members of both groups. The band will also be playing the song "Think," made famous by Aretha Franklin, with Quiana Holmes singing. "It’s a piece I arranged a few years ago, but haven’t had the right student to sing it until now," Meiss says.

Last year’s jazz concert invited back RFA Jazz alumni to play a few tunes with the group. This year, the alumni are planning to play a short set on their own. Meiss says he has "gotten a very positive response from many recent alumni" and would like to reach out to more. Any RFA Jazz band alumni interested in participating, can contact Meiss at jmeiss@romecsd.org.

Rounding out the concert program will be the Strough Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Mrs. Anne Gannon. "This is an exciting new addition to our jazz concert" says Meiss. "Now we can see the progression from middle school to high school to college and beyond." The Strough Jazz Ensemble will be playing "All the Way" by James Van Heusen, "Black Cat" by Janet Jackson, and "Spinning Wheel" by Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

The RFA Jazz Band is open to any student who plays (or wants to play) saxophone, trumpet, trombone, drum set, guitar, bass, or piano. The group has several students playing secondary instruments, since their principle instrument isn’t used in jazz arrangements.

Jazz band saxophones are Ankur Desai, Kaitlyn Dombrowski, Eileen Michik, Linda Martin, Connor Butters, Jesse Baumes, Kyle Dombrowski, Evan Griffith, Nicolette Darois, Elaina Lomery, Brianna Coia, and Kyle Bojanek.

Trumpets are Zach Linderman, Pat Haugen, Jonah Allen, Derek Sexton, David Copeland, and Christian Johnson.

Trombones are Erik Winberg, Dana Glantz, Alex Cianfrano, Ashley Hrim, Christina Carissimo, Ryan Parry, and Dylan Redmond.

The rhythm section includes Cal Hughes on piano, Devyn Arredondo, Tyler Cavanagh and Maddie Minicozzi trading off on bass, Zach Camp on guitar, and Tommy Fleming and Jeremi Briggs on drums.