Valley Jazz Orchestra Wins Iowa Jazz Championship

The Valley Jazz Orchestra won the 2014 Class 4A Iowa Jazz Championship during the 15-band competition at the Des Moines Civic Center. Four Outstanding Performer Awards are given in each class, with Valley earning two – senior Saketh Undurty (West Des Moines) on trumpet and sophomore Taylor Igram (Clive) on alto saxophone.

Bands are evaluated using a 100 point scale, earning up to 30 points for the wind section (saxophones, trumpets, trombones), 30 points for the rhythm section (bass, drums, piano, vibraphone, auxiliary percussion), 30 points for improvisation and 10 points for overall effect and music selection.

The Valley Jazz Orchestra, directed by Greg Simmons and Dave Kobberdahl, has a proud tradition of participation in Iowa Jazz Championships. In the past, Valley Jazz Orchestra has participated in many festivals including Jazz at the Meadows, the prestigious Essentially Ellington Competition and the Eau Claire Jazz Festival. This past weekend, the entire Valley jazz program participated in the Eau Claire Jazz Festival and members of this ensemble earned a first place finish in the combo division.

The Valley Jazz Orchestra will be performing at the upcoming West Des Moines Jazz Festival on April 24 in the VHS cafeteria and at the Spring Fling Wing Ding on May 9.

Jazz Orchestra members are Sam Anderson, Nick Behrends, Joe Brennan, Julian Castillo, Joe Erickson, Zane Gedler, Sean Graves, Stephanie Hansen, Taylor Igram, Lauren Johnson, Matt Johnson, Todd Johnson, Andrew Novitskiy, Jared Paine, Derek Pham, Joe Petersen, Parker Reed, Abi Roach, Orlando Sanchez, Will Swanson and Saketh Undurty.