BEAVERCREEK — A trip to Weekend of Jazz five years ago may be the reason one Beavercreek High School student plans to major in music when he graduates.
When then-sixth-grader Brayden Lovely listened to jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra in his high school’s auditorium in 2014, he was hooked.
“It was awesome, like a surreal experience. Just feeling the sound — I don’t know how to explain it — you hear it on headphones, but it’s much different when you hear it in person,” Lovely said. “Ever since then I’ve loved music so much and it’s become a big part of my life.”
Now a junior trombone player, Lovely, 16, is getting ready for the jazz fest, which will be held this Thursday- Saturday, Feb. 28- March 2 in the Beavercreek High School Alumni Auditorium, 2660 Dayton Xenia Road.
The weekend includes Beavercreek Schools’ band night; concerts by two headliners — Special EFX All Stars and the Eastman New Jazz Ensemble; and a jazz band festival featuring 26 schools, including Xenia High School, Carroll High School and Central State University.
Three master classes will also be held, which are free and open to the public. Lovely plans to attend all of the classes, but is especially excited for the “Making Music in College” class, taught by members of the Eastman New Jazz Ensemble.
“It’s about being a music major, which is what I want to go into in college. That one-on-one experience, maybe getting to know some of them, getting pointers and stuff — that’s super awesome,” he said.
Senior trumpet player Kaitlyn McGee, who wants to study environmental science next year but stick with jazz band, agreed that Eastman’s group is relatable to the student population.
“They’re so full of energy, and they’re all college kids — kids near my age — and we’ll get to see what amazing things that they’re doing,” she said.
McGee, 17, said one of her favorite parts of the weekend is always hearing from the clinicians on the first night.
“It’s really great to have experienced performers, educators talk to us after we are done playing,” she said. “It’s such a cool experience to have them talk to us one-on-one to help us improve our playing.”
One moment Lovely said he still thinks about was when world-famous bass player Victor Wooten listened to and critiqued the band last year.
“He taught us so many things about soloing — how it comes from us … don’t pay too much attention to what’s on the page, it comes from your heart. How much he loves music — you could see it so much on his face and that makes you want to get better at your instrument, it makes you want to strive to have that love for what you do,” he said. “I felt like a whole new person after I played with him … You don’t get that at just a band rehearsal or a band concert.”
The two Jazz 1 students agreed that most of all, the weekend is about community.
“Seeing people like my grandparents come, along with people like me at 16 or 17 — it brings people together,” Lovely said.
McGee added, “Sharing the experience with strangers — you don’t know them but you have that common love for the art — that’s definitely something that I know I’ll look back on.”
When asked if the festival will stick in his mind for awhile, Lovely didn’t hesitate.
“Definitely,” he said. “Forever.”