On a rainy evening on Nov. 19, the BYU–Hawaii Street Band performed jazz pieces, turning the Hale Pavilion into a New Orleans revival. As they played, students from the Hales ventured down to listen to the music.
Maddie Thomas, a math education sophomore from California, said, “It was so inspiring to see all these talented musicians. I thought it was really fun that the music just made you want to get up and dance. I think it’s great when the audience can be involved in a show like that. [It was] definitely energizing.”
The first song played was “When the Saints Go Marching In.” They had the audience join along in the ensemble. Music Professor Daniel Henderson played with and directed the band. He said “When the Saints Go Marching In” is a sacred song because it is a prayer asking God to let them be a part of the singing saints in heaven. All the music pieces of the night, Dr. Henderson noted, were sacred, ecstatic, happy prayers to God.
Dr. Henderson noted they played by ear and did not use sheet music, even when they were rehearsing. He said they have trumpets, a slide trombone, sousaphone, French horn, mellophone, saxophone, and percussion.
“This is how jazz works. Someone points to you and you do it. They may seem preplanned, [but] they are improvised. You’ve got to be flexible in a band like this.”
Dr. Henderson continued, “We think of roles in a street band as being in a community.” He said each member has different strengths and they combine together to make something special.
One piece, “I’ll Fly Away,” began with three stringed instruments: the strum stick, acoustic bass, and mandolin, which are not traditionally jazz instruments. It elicited “chee-hoos” and cheers from the crowd.
It was the first time performing on a strum stick for Sam Clayton, a business senior from Colorado, as well as the other two. They continued playing “I’ll Fly Away,” but they transitioned back into jazz parts.
The last set began with “Saint James Infirmary,” a popular New Orleans funeral song which they suddenly changed into “Over in that Gloryland.” The crowd learned the refrain and joined along. Not only were there cheers, but shouts of “hallelujah” from the crowd. The band went out into the audience as it continued playing. They then led the audience into a parade around the Hale court into the pouring rain. The unified voices and brass created an ecstatic march.
Remarking music is a gift from God, Allie Degraffenried, a freshman from New Hampshire majoring in instrumental performance who played the French horn in the band, said, “Every culture has music, so globally it’s a unifying tool.”
Degraffenried also commented on the music program at BYUH. “We have a totally overqualified music staff. At the same time, it’s not cutthroat competition with other individuals. When you take the competitive edge off of music, you can create some real beauty that maybe you never would have bothered to tap into if you were in a competitive environment.”
Playing percussion for the band, Kris Krisanalome, a senior from Thailand majoring in percussion, said, “I’ve been drumming for a long time, [but] it was my first time doing this class. Dr. Henderson invited me to this band. It’s a great opportunity to learn. [For] most of the members of the band, it is their first time in a band, and they did very well as you see.”
Isaac Brooks, a music composition sophomore from Indiana, said he thought the band had high energy and he had a good time. He said, “Street Band is one of the most fun ensembles on campus, along with Salsa Band.”