On Jan. 26, Country Day finished second in its division at the Folsom Jazz Festival. It was the school’s first appearance in the festival since 2012 and its best result.
This was the 30th anniversary of the festival, the largest jazz competition in California with 144 groups and thousands of students performing on seven stages and two campuses, according to band director Bob Ratcliff.
Country Day was the smallest school in the competition, competing in the C division against about a dozen other groups.
“Since 2012, the competition has really grown,” Ratcliff said. “There are now more top quality groups participating and fewer lesser-quality bands.”
Senior trombonist Alex Rogawski was one of the few band members who had participated in the competition, having done so in ninth grade.
“I think we’ve played better in practices, but overall we sounded very good,” Rogawski said. “My part personally could have been a little cleaner, but I’m satisfied in the way I played.”
The band can still work on perfecting the little things, according to Rogawski.
Senior and tenor saxophone player Heidi Johnson also had participated in the Folsom Jazz Festival as a freshman.
“The competition went all right,” Johnson said. “We had some areas that we need to improve on, but overall I think we played really well.”
Johnson said the band needs to work on getting the microphones ready for solos. The band hadn’t had much practice with this, causing it to have to improvise on stage.
Freshman and soprano saxophone player Craig Bolman said he needs to work on soloing, specifically in articulation and variety in rhythms.
“The band as a whole needs to work on balancing the sound of different instrument groups and our tempo,” he said. “We tend to go a little fast on our songs.”
Sophomore percussionist Allie Bogetich participated in the competition for the first time.
“We sounded a lot better the Monday before the competition, so I think if we had sounded how we did at rehearsal, we could’ve placed higher,” Bogetich said. “Overall, I think we did decently, but we had some issues with entering phrases together.”
Bogetich, like Bolman, said the band can continue to improve on its balance of tone, as the horns were overpowering.
“We also need to learn to play to the room,” she said. “By this, I mean learn how sound travels differently in different venues. From the stage, we sounded good, but to the audience, the whole rhythm section was way too loud.”
Junior pianist Shimin Zhang said she enjoyed the competition.
“I thought the band performed even better than usual, most likely because of the stage and sound effects,” Zhang said. “We were able to balance our sound nicely and control the speed.
“And for myself, I thought I did just OK. I started learning jazz music just recently, so I still need to work a lot more improvising. Mr. Ratcliff helped me a lot with arranging the chords, so that was really helpful.”
Baritone saxophone player Anna Wilson, an eighth grader, received an individual medal, although she said her sound was lost among the band.
The Jazz Band has two more competitions this year: the Forum Festival on April 13 and the Reno Jazz Festival on April 25-26.
—By Miles Morrow