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DHS Jazz Band takes 1st at National Jazz Heritage Competition

De Soto High School jazz band performing on stage at the KCKCC Jazz Heritage on April 27, 2023.

Congratulations to the De Soto High School Jazz Band for taking first place on April 27, in the 5A division of the 2023 Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC) Jazz Heritage Competition. The national competition is part of the annual Kansas City Jazz Summit which attracts top bands from across the country.

The Kansas City Jazz Summit provides an educational performance opportunity for middle school, high school and college jazz bands, combos and jazz choirs and takes place in April each year at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

The Jazz Heritage Competition requires each ensemble to prepare 15-20 minutes of music from a list of original recordings by the Count Basie Orchestra.

Competing in the 5A division, De Soto High School students, under the direction of band instructor Phillip Kaul, performed a diverse and challenging set of music, including:

  • Flight of the Foo Birds (feat. Jacob Smith, alto sax, and Cole Bichelmeyer, trumpet)
  • Sunset Glow (feat. Aidan Hamer, trombone)
  • Blue Five Jive (feat. Keegan Flynn, tenor sax; Nick Maskil, trombone; Cole Bichelmeyer, trumpet; and Kellan Flynn, piano)
  • Magic Flea (feat. Nic Weaver, trumpet)

We are excited to announce that DHS took first place in the 5A division! This is the jazz band’s second consecutive year placing at the national competition, after earning the runner-up spot in 2022.

According to the Kansas City Jazz Summit, the festival highlights Kansas City's rich jazz heritage through the "Basically Basie" Jazz Heritage Competition. Bands are judged on their ability to capture the essence of the Kansas City style, as best exemplified by the Count Basie Orchestra. There is also a non-competitive category (Summit) that allows bands to showcase their own unique style and personality.

The "Basically Basie" competition is modeled after the "Essentially Ellington" competition in which bands select approved repertoire and work toward emulating the style and spirit of the music as closely to the original performances and recordings as possible.

The point of making "Basically Basie" a competition is to give bands the motivation to delve deeply into their chosen repertoire. The Kansas City Jazz Summit hopes that each band, as an ensemble, but additionally each individual band member, embraces the challenge of dissecting the composition and studying the interpretation of the artists who originally performed the music. This puts much onus on each individual musician to do their homework to be able to emulate their part in the score as well as their solos. The band director then puts all those parts together, paying particular attention to dynamics, feel, balance, blend, intonation, articulation and time. Bands who accept this challenge and are able to display the evidence of their due diligence on stage are usually the most successful.

Group photo of the student members of the De Soto High School jazz band.