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The Piedmont Highlander

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Jazz Trio Dazzles Piedmont

Sophie Hess
Alden Meil on guitar

 This year’s Piedmont High School Jazz Combo 1, one of two smaller scale jazz bands in the music program, includes seniors Will Kennedy, Ryan St. John and Alden Meil. St. John plays the drum set, Kennedy plays saxophone and Meil plays bass. Kennedy and Meil have both been in the music program for all four years of their time at PHS, with St. John joining the program in his sophomore year. 

  All three members were a part of the PHS Jazz Combo 2 in 2022-23, which was recognized by the state of California at Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto, Ca. on Jan. 27 and Jan. 28 of 2023. Their group was awarded the highest possible honor, being rated “Superior” for their performances. 

  However, this year looks a little different for the group, as they have downsized from seven members to just three.

  “We’re all friends outside of playing, we’ve known each other for a really long time, and we play as a trio, so I think we’ve got a really good dynamic. That helps when you’re playing, just being able to communicate with one another,” Kennedy said. 

  The group said this shift in the size of the group was not too different from before, as they are still just playing music and having fun. 

Will Kennedy playing saxophone (Sophie Hess)

  “I think that we’ve built up a repertoire of songs in our combo that we all dig and play a certain way that fits all of our playing styles,” St. John said.

  Some adjustments from last year to this year include Meil moving from guitar to bass, and Trevor Messerol taking over as bandleader from Dr. Andrea Mullen. Messerol graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2022 with a degree in music education. St. John said that although it’s Messerol’s first year, he is able to command the classroom effectively. 

  “I feel like the songs that he chooses are more personal to him and it’s stuff that he’s really into, so he feels passionate about the songs we play and that’s really cool,” St. John said. 

  Overall, the trio said the shift in leadership has had a positive effect on the group. 

  “It’s always fun to have teachers that are excited about what they’re teaching, as well as people who are excited to learn,” Meil said.

   The group’s focus has shifted to a new type of success this school year.

  “The success that we find now is finding gigs and getting paid, and it’s happening a lot. I think the way that we found that success was by [initially] doing gigs for free, but now we can say that we want to get paid,” Kennedy said, “That just happens because the more you do gigs, the more people come up to you and talk to you and ask for your information for another gig.” 

  The group has played at a number of local events, each member making upwards of $50 per hour. Kennedy said that fundraisers have made up the majority of the trio’s performances, citing events such as Doggies and Donuts (a dog adoption fair held in Piedmont), the 11th Annual Piedmont Artisanal Beer Festival, as well as a Bar Mitzvah. The band’s performances usually run for one to three hours.

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About the Contributor
Sophie Hess
Sophie Hess, Photos Editor
Sophie Hess (11) is the Photographer for TPH. Apart from journalism, she enjoys cooking, gardening, and traveling with her family.
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