Monomoy’s Growing Jazz Band Offers Students Musical Freedom
HARWICH – Cruise the halls of Monomoy Regional High School in the middle of the school day and, if you’re lucky, you might be swept away by the beautiful sounds of the inspiring beats played by the Monomoy Jazz Band.
Led by Wayne Naus, a Harwich resident and professional musician who previously served as a faculty member at Berklee College of Music for 35 years, the jazz band has become a creative outlet for MRHS students in grades eight through 12. .
With around 25 members, this year’s group is bigger than ever since Monomoy’s musical director, Rosemarie Richard, invited Naus to develop and lead the jazz band a decade ago.
“It was a slow build,” Naus said. “It took 10 years to produce what we had here today. It’s like a sports team – it feels really good, really good, and then I hope it becomes amazing. Eventually it’s going to fall apart and we’ll have to start over, but right now it’s at its worst.
Along with fellow Art Ensemble of Cape Cod bandmates, bassist Rick Cain and drummer John DiSanto, Naus recently hosted a workshop for attendees of jazz band Monomoy. It was the first time that Naus invited Cain and DiSanto, with whom he plays the piano, to visit the school.
The jazz band performs a number of classic songs, as well as original tunes written by Naus, including “Moon Over Monomoy”, a staple in the ensemble’s catalog that captures the vibe of Cape Town.
As much as he loves playing, Naus said teaching the next generation at Monomoy helps keep him young.
“It’s always exciting for me to be around young people because their young energy makes you feel young and keeps you young,” Naus said. “It’s really an exciting feeling to know that these kids started this music from scratch – they’ve never heard this music before and now they’re playing it with incredible spirit.”
The students appreciate the jazz group as much, if not more, than Naus. Although the high school offers other musical programs, including a classical band and a concert band, the jazz band offers a freedom the kids say is hard to replicate in other settings.
“There’s definitely more freedom and it’s more fun in the sense that there are things you don’t expect,” said Edrian Wright, a senior trombone player from Yarmouth. “There are wonky rhythms, there are wonky notes. But once you learn it, it’s like another hobby you learn and another skill you develop – it becomes second nature.
Abigail Considine, a junior from Yarmouth who plays alto saxophone, agreed with Wright.
“I love the classic band, but it’s stiffer,” she said. “With a jazz band, I think you can express your emotions more. It’s a lot more energy.
Although there is no set date for the jazz band’s next live performance, Naus said the band will perform at the Monomoy Christmas concert in December, at a local school committee meeting and will do visits to local schools to give the next generation of MRHS students an idea of what offers await you in high school.
Wright said he would encourage any student with a passion for music to consider joining the jazz band.
“I think anyone who has the opportunity to join a jazz band should join a jazz band because it’s such a rewarding experience and so liberating in so many ways,” Wright said. “The thing about music is that it transcends any language barrier, any sexuality barrier, any gender barrier. It’s just something that everyone can enjoy and that’s what is beautiful in music.
Email Brad Joyal at email@example.com. Twitter: @BradJoyal