CF captures first ever top finish at state jazz championships in Ames on April 5

Jazz One director Kyle Engelhardt, who has been directing the band since 2004, was exhilarated on April 5 at the Stephens Auditorium in Ames when he discovered that the band won the Iowa Jazz Championships for the first time in CFHS history.

The extracurricular band rehearses three days a week in the band room on Monday nights from 8-10 p.m., and Wednesday and Friday mornings from 7-8 a.m. 

Engelhardt said that jazz is different from other categories of band because the students prepare the music that is written, as well as create some spontaneous improvisations that occur during performances. “Students can perform solos and make up their own ideas and phrases to tell their own stories,” Engelhardt said. 

The invitational jazz band festival invites the top two bands in each district from across the state, along with three “wildcard” bands. Awards were announced in reverse order from 15 to 1, with the top two being announced after the night finals. Jazz One performed at 9:30 during the night finals. “Everybody performs once during the day show, and the top two bands play for night finals later that evening.”

The band performed “Autumn Leaves,” arranged by Steven Feifke, “Sepia Panorama” by Duke Ellington, and “Melt Down” by Bob Washut.

After the daytime competition ended, the band went out to eat and celebrate together in Ames before heading back for the evening finals to perform one more time. 

The band celebrated with friends and family after the night finals awards ceremony and took many pictures with their friends in the band before boarding the bus and heading back home, arriving in Cedar Falls at around 1:30 a.m. 


Due to the fact the band arrived home after the night finals around 1:30 AM, the ensemble did not do anything to celebrate their accomplishments that day. However, Engelhardt said after the day show, the team went out to dinner and took their time to celebrate. 

Engelhardt said overall, state competitions were fun. “I enjoyed the fact that we played well. It was a great time, and the music we played was authentic to us. It showed off everybody in the band in different ways. More importantly than the trophy, just playing well and having a good time is what we try to do in Cedar Falls,” Engelhardt said. 

He said the school has had many good bands throughout the years. “I think this year we had several people who could solo really well with an amazing rhythm section. Everybody in the band was really experienced. We only had four graduates from the year before. We worked hard during COVID last year and did an extra concert in May with just Jazz One band. It seems like there was a lot of investment this year. The students practiced really hard,”

Senior Jace Barry said he joined jazz band in seventh grade because he loves to play music and will jump at any opportunity to do so. “I practice every day on my own, and I think it’s well paid off,” he said.

Barry, who plays the trumpet, said winning State was one of the happiest moments of his life. “We were just overcome with joy. There was so much cheering. It was such a great moment,” he said. 

He performed three different solos and said he was really proud of his performance. “Performing on the stage was so much fun. My favorite moment was coming back to perform at night for a chance to win it all. It was one of our best performances ever, and I’m so glad I was able to do it with such great people.”

Barry said it was such a big honor to be a part of the first class ever in CF history to win state jazz band. He said, “I’m so proud of everyone in the band, and I couldn’t be happier to win State in my last run with CF Jazz One!”

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