Music:

Scroll down for audio clips of the Baldwin Harbor Junior High School Jazz Ensemble.

In order to be members of the Baldwin Harbor Junior High School Jazz Ensemble, students were expected to improvise. Improvisation classes were held during lunch periods. Students ate their lunches in the auditorium while I presented the theory and listening portion of the curriculum. Then everyone got their instruments out and applied what they had just learned. In addition, students also learned to compose riffs, and several tunes on these albums were written and/or arranged by students. During rehearsals and performances students were never sure whether or not they would get a cue to stand and improvise. As a result, they all worked really hard because they knew that they could be called on at any moment, whether they were beginners or experienced improvisers, whether it was a rehearsal or a performance.

The Jazz Ensemble presented their own concert each spring, so it was necessary for them to learn somewhere between 12 and 15 tunes. That would not have been difficult if I had selected easy arrangements, but my philosophy was to challenge them because students don’t progress if they perform music they can already play. I gave them music they couldn’t play and, with varying degrees of success, expected them to learn something new. When students graduated they were well-prepared for the next level. I’ve heard from many of them over the years, but my favorite story is of pianist Kate Sullivan who was asked by a college professor where on earth she learned to improvise so well. Her reply?--“In junior high school?” Her remark had the tone of “Like doesn’t everyone learn to improvise in junior high school?” Kate was the first of my students to leave us much too early, and she is deeply missed by all who knew her.

Each album below was recorded in a professional recording studio in one session. Because of the number of tunes, it was not possible to do more than one “take” because of time (and lip) considerations. As a result, there are some occasional bloopers. In addition, there are a few balance problems because each student had his or her own microphone, which, in retrospect, was probably not a good idea because the engineer had no idea what was going to happen next in the arrangement. Despite these difficulties, it is often hard to believe that these performers are only 12, 13 or 14 years old.

Record Albums The Best of the BHJHS Jazz Ensemble
BHJHS 1971 JRE Album
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My Favorite Things/Blues (Richard Rodgers)

1971 8th Graders David Lebolt (Piano), Dave Ogrin (Alto Sax) and Steve Lenkofsky (Drums).
Bill Zurcher (Bass)

BHJHS 1973 JRE Album

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Audio files coming soon.

BHJHS 1975 JRE Album

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Solid Soul
Guitar solo - Eliezer Lusterman
Trombone solo - George Steinberger
Bass solo - Scott Hershman
Alto solo - Frank Naccarato
Piano solo - Jay Garfinkel
Drum solo - Todd Turkisher

Listen to All Selections - Double Album

BHJHS 1977 JRE Album

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Audio files coming soon.

BHJHS 1979 JRE Album

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Gonna Fly Now (Carol Connors, Ayn Robbins, and Bill Conti)

Ed Levine, Tenor Sax
Lou DiLeo, Trumpet

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