The Jazz Band is a high school ensemble using the genre of jazz to teach music, helping students gain new experiences and skills by playing written music and through improvisation. The ensemble plays all types of jazz, including blues, swing, bebop, cool jazz fusion, and Latin. The selected music ranges from traditional jazz to Big Band to contemporary jazz pieces.
The Jazz Band meets once a week for ninety minutes after school to rehearse the current music selections. The rehearsals begin in December and end in May.
Currently, the Jazz Band is open to all Glen Ridge High School students and does not require an audition. But students must participate in other musical programs at the high school and be able to read music. The ensemble has included 18 to 32 students, playing instruments typical of jazz bands, including alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet, mellophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, drum set, bass, guitar, and vocals. High school students playing other instruments are welcomed to join; in the past, those instruments have included French horn, violin, bass clarinet, and flute. If there is not music written for a particular instrument, students are expected to transpose and write out pieces for their own instrument.
The Jazz Band performs several times each school year. There are two “coffee house” evening performances in the high school cafeteria in March and May, as well as at the Glen Ridge Arts Festival, held on the second Saturday of May. On a biennial basis, the Jazz Band plays for “Jazz and Jambalaya,” a dinner held in the Glen Ridge Congregational Church and sponsored by the local chapter of the Kiwanis Club of America. Proceeds from the dinner benefit the Kiwanis Club and refreshments sold at the “coffee house” events benefit the GRMPA.