Tosa East jazz ensemble launches CD at Engl's swan song
They take jazz seriously at Wauwatosa East High School. And it's been true for more than a dozen years now, thanks to teacher Rob Engl, who has served as the school's band director for 13 years.
Engl's students in Jazz Ensemble I meet three days at week in the morning before the first bell rings and sometimes rehearse over lunch, after school and evenings, too.
That kind of dedication has led to performances in London, Paris, New York and Edinburgh, among other places. The students also take part in an annual concert at the school by the Northern Illinois University Jazz Ensemble.
This year, however, will be Engl's last, as he retires at the end of the academic year.
"The jazz and band programs under his and his wife's – Robin Engl retired last year – has been a true gift to our community," says Jon Leubner, parent of a band student. "Their tireless efforts on behalf of their students and their musical legacy will be felt for generations to come."
This year's concert takes place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21 – in the Wauwatosa East High School Theater – and features the Northern Illinois University Jazz Ensemble, guest artist Wycliffe Gordon, former trombonist in the Wynton Marsalis Septet, and The Wauwatosa East Jazz Ensemble I.
"Wycliffe is one of the greatest jazz trombonists of all time," says Engl. "I have wanted to bring him here for years."
No less than Duke Ellington called the Northern Illinois University Jazz Ensemble "one of the top collegiate bands in the nation." Under the direction of Ronald Carter the ensemble has performed with Wynton Marsalis, Charles McPherson, Randy Brecker, Benny Golson, Marian
McPartland, Dizzy Gillespie, Willie Pickens and other jazz greats.
"I am really looking forward to the show, although as you mentioned, it will be my last one, so while I feel reflective about that, on the other hand it will perhaps be the most wonderful of all of the NIU/East collaborations. I hope the show will go on after I retire."
The gig is the 12th annual event and it is also a release party for the new "Through the Years ... Best of 2001-2012" CD, which collects 18 performances.
Tickets are $15 for main floor seats, $10 to sit in the balcony and $8 for students and seniors (62 and older).
Proceeds from the show benefit the Tosa East Band Program.
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