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Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

Bossa nova, bebop and burgers

Jazz band performs for local diners
Alexander Tang
The jazz band performs on the front patio of Lankford’s Bellaire. The band mainly performed bebop songs with some bossa nova and blues sprinkled in.

Spirited jazz music filled the air at Lankford’s Bellaire the night of April 12 as customers feasted on burgers, fries, milkshakes and much more. From 7-9 p.m., the jazz band played a “mixed bag setlist” featuring songs like “Spain” by Chick Corea, the Bill Evans rendition of “Nardis” originally by Miles Davis and “But Not For Me” by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin.

“I really liked playing ‘Cherokee,’” junior and pianist Steven Lawson said. “It’s a really fast paced song, and soloing over it is a lot of fun.”

The band almost didn’t get to play, but they pushed through scheduling conflicts and eventually landed on Friday.

“[We] got contacted by the owner of Lankford’s, and they said they wanted to do a fundraiser,” senior and guitarist Maurya Manjunath said. “It’s been canceled [three or four] times and on the fourth or fifth time it finally actually happened.”

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The band jumped on the opportunity as they don’t get many chances to do long length live performances. For sophomore bassist Daniel Percy, this two hour show was a first.

“[This is] definitely my longest jazz band gig,” Percy said. “It’s special because we got to play some of our favorite songs multiple times, and [our playing] gets better and better and crazier and crazier as it goes on.”

As the concert progressed, Percy stepped out of his comfort zone and experimented with different ways to play the bass.

“I normally don’t take a whole lot of solos because I’m more of a beginner in bass playing,” Percy said. “But whenever we really get going and we’ve been playing for a while, I start to get really creative and I just do things completely out of whack. I was drumming on my bass and hitting one of my strings to play a note at one point. And that’s just a big part of the fun.”

In addition to the creative aspect, one of the best parts about this event for the band is the live connection with the listeners.

“Hearing the audience reaction is really special because you get to see how your music actually impacts people,” Lawson said.

To Percy, it was more than just receiving the audience’s reaction, it was a dialogue with them.
“Live [jazz] music is really something special,” Percy said. “You’ll never see kids interacting in a similar way unless it’s jazz. Jazz is like a language: [the musicians and the audience are] talking to each other, we’re having a good conversation.”

More than just conversation, jazz taps into a deep part of Manjunath’s soul.

“It’s just different from everything else, and the chords and the dissonance brings out emotions that other songs simply can’t,” Manjunath said. “It’s just musicians who are good at their instrument [who] have the ability to improvise, and their method of expression and talking is the notes they can play on their instrument. It was really just us having fun together and showing off our skills.”

Attending a great jazz performance is like having a fun night out with your friends, according to Percy.

“When you’re out with your friends and it starts to get late, you start laughing more, you just feel almost a little crazier, a little more prone to happiness,” Percy said. “It’s a very similar thing with jazz. It’s all very spontaneous [and] in the moment. We write [almost everything] we’re playing as we’re playing it. If people aren’t interested in jazz, they really ought to give it a chance [and] come listen to us because I think we sound fantastic.”

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  • C

    Claire BApr 22, 2024 at 11:39 am

    Super great story, Alex! It’s really interesting and taps into the lives of Bellaire students outside of school 🙂 I’ll have to go to a jazz concert at some point fs

  • D

    David RApr 17, 2024 at 11:55 am

    Love the photos keep up the great work Alex!