top of page

The Jazz Ensemble experience at Ridgewood High School is organized into a two-part sequence which provides students with the opportunity to learn about and perform jazz music - the only truly American art form.  Both large performance ensembles, the RHS Big Band and the RHS Jazz Lab provide students with opportunities to learn to play in a variety of styles ranging from swing to Latin jazz and rock.  The Big Band is for more experienced jazz musicians while the Jazz Lab focuses primarily on building performance skills in the jazz style.  Both groups also provide instruction in improvisation.

Both the Big Band and Jazz Lab perform music written for standard jazz ensemble instrumentation - 5 saxophones, 4 trombones, 4 trumpets, piano, guitar, bass and drums. Changes to this instrumentation may be made on a year-by-year basis, depending on the specific needs of selections. In addition to weekly ensemble rehearsals, each member of the Big Band must attend weekly sectionals, which are scheduled according to the availability of the students and the section instructor.

Any student enrolled in a curricular music class is eligible to audition for a jazz ensemble.  Auditions are held in October and early November and are judged blindly. 
 All auditioning students receive a judge's critique sheet following auditions. Both jazz ensembles rehearse mainly on Tuesday evenings from mid-November until the end of May.

Both jazz ensembles typically perform in one concert event at RHS, a Jazz Coffeehouse with the middle school jazz bands, the annual Jazz dinner concert, at least one festival or competition, and at the annual Celebration of the Arts day at RHS.   Additional performances may be added to the calendar depending upon request and availability.

The jazz ensembles will be participating in a Jazz festival, details to be announced later..

The jazz ensembles have performed with such noted guest artists as Byron Stripling, Shelly Berg, Phil Wilson, Denis DiBlasio, Kristin Korb, Darmon Meader, Marvin Stamm, Conrad Herwig, David Demsey, Jeff Jarvis, Scott Whitfield, Andy Fusco, Dave Bargeron, Ingrid Jensen, Michael Philip Mossman, Dave Stryker, Wayne Bergeron, Tom "Bones" Malone, John Toomey, Don Braden, Andy Martin, Mark Friedman, Vincent Gardner, Jerry Vivino, and Julius Tolentino. 

Jazz Faculty:
Gary Fink, Director- RHS Big Band
Jeffrey Haas - Director - RHS Jazz Lab
Ben Hankle -Trumpet Section Assistant
James Garde - Saxophone Section Assistant
Henry Heyzer - Trombone Section Assistant

All students interested in auditioning for one of the jazz bands and/or the pit orchestra MUST attend a MANDATORY MEETING on Thursday, October 6 during Unit Lunch in the Band Room.

Auditions for the 2022-2023 Jazz Ensembles will be held on November 14th.


2022-2023 Jazz Ensembles Calendar

Jazz in the Wood 2023

Join us for the premier event of the RHS jazz season as we return to The Brick House Restaurant in Wyckoff, NJ.  Always a highlight of the year, our jazz dinner concert features the RHS Jazz Lab and Big Band performing in a jazz dinner club atmosphere along with renowned guest artists.

This year, in honor of the RHS Band Program's 100th Anniversary, we are thrilled to welcome back SIX alumni guest artists who are all professional jazz musicians: Jared Gold, organ ('98), Evan Cobb, saxophone and flute ('99), James Garde, saxophone ('93), Ben Saporito, drums ('11), Max Caine, guitar ('17), and Griffin Fink, bass ('18.)

Brick House Jazz: An Evening of "Jazz in the Wood" will take place on Sunday, May 15 with one seating only at 6PM.


Tickets for Jazz in the Wood may be purchased by clicking here.

Click here to view the information flier.

Anchor 1
Jazz in the Wood
bottom of page