On May 18, 2018 at 7:00 P.M. at the Valencia High School Auditorium, the combined jazz bands from Kramer Middle School and Valencia High School performed back-to-back with special guest artist Alex Hahn. 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of Valencia High School hosting a Jazz Guest Artist Concert. Previous years have seen artists like Wayne Bergeron, Barbara Morrison, Bijon Watson, and Francisco Torres perform alongside Valencia’s own jazz bands. This year, Valencia and Kramer invited saxophone player Alex Hahn to perform with both schools.
Alex Hahn is an award-winning saxophonist and composer based in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from University of North Texas in 2014 with a Bachelor of Music and later on graduated from the University of California with his Master of Music in Jazz Studies. Along with his accolades, Hahn is well-known for performing with other renowned artists like Herbie Hancock, John Clayton, and Michael Buble. He has traveled and performed in countries like Havana, Cuba and St. Petersburg, Russia. Hahn also leads his own group called The Alex Hahn Crossing recently releasing their new album “Emerging” to critical acclaim.
The Kramer Jazz Band under the direction of Mr. Mark Gunderson performed songs such as “The Blues Walk” by Clifford Brown, “Birdland” by Joseph Zawinul, and “I Gots The Sleepy Man Blues” composed by Hahn himself. Valencia’s Jazz II and Jazz I performed with Hahn, “There Will Be Another You,” “Second Chances,” and featured on Hahn’s album, Emerging, “Psychedelic Sun.”
After the performance, Hahn spoke about his experience working with the bands. He spoke of both bands having “a great amount of fun working with [him]”. He says that he always strive towards “pushing boundaries towards a great performance.” When Hahn rehearsed with the bands, he worked on “tweaking and improving students’ jazz improvisation” as well as tips on being a better performer. Hahn commented that it was “amazing to work with the jazz students who have a significant amount of energy.” He recognized that this performance has “great symbolic meaning to [him] considering [he] has done performances like the one at Valencia when [he] was in high school and that they performed music familiar to [him].”