Del Mar College’s MWF Jazz Band recently performed at the 62nd annual Texas Jazz Festival.
This annual festival, which took place Oct. 20 at downtown Corpus Christi’s Heritage Park, is free and open to the public. It is also one of the oldest jazz fests in Texas, according to MWF Jazz Band Director Danny Miller.
“The festival began back in 1960 at Del Mar College and over the years the organizers began inviting bands from surrounding areas like Houston and San Antonio, and it eventually expanded to bands from all over the world,” Miller said.
Miller said it is a special opportunity performing on the same stage as both high school bands and world-renowned jazz musicians. Miller has directed the jazz band since he was hired at Del Mar College in 2019. He auditions and selects the members of the band during the first week of class. The band is composed of students at Del Mar College and often even alumni.
Miller chose pieces for the band to perform at the Jazz Festival ranging from swing tunes to uptempo funk. The selection performed included a piece called “Begin the Beguine” composed by Artie Shaw, which features the clarinet.
Rick Cantu, featured clarinet player in the MWF Jazz Band, performed for his second time at the Jazz Festival alongside the band. According to Cantu, this time was much more exciting because he knew what to expect, yet it was also more challenging.
“This year I feel like it was a bit more challenging for me compared to last year because of the pieces we were playing,” Cantu said.
Nonetheless, the performance went seamlessly.
Fellow band members and percussionists Greg Gomez and Juan Carlos Molina also spoke of the band’s practices and all the preparation necessary for such an event.
“The most challenging thing would have to be the amount of material,” Gomez said.
The band is often required to learn plenty of pieces of all sorts. However, Gomez appreciates that all of the rehearsals resulted in everything running smoothly at the Jazz Festival. R
Rehearsals provided a space for Gomez and Molina to become very close friends.
“This is my first time performing at the Jazz Festival thanks to Greg Gomez,” Molina said, adding that he is grateful to perform in a community like that of the band that he now considers family.