MSU Jazz Night is a big deal for Hackett. Michigan State’s Be-bop Spartan jazz band has chosen to return to Hackett for 10 years in a row as of this year. In honor of the 10th anniversary, Hackett invited Scottie Walker and his Galesburg-Augusta jazz combo to perform with Hackett. Mr. Walker played a large role in MSU choosing to bring their talent to Hackett 10 years ago when he was the band director at Hackett.
Along with performing, Galesburg also had the opportunity to join Hackett for a master class from Rodney Whitaker, MSU’s band director. During the master class, the high school bands played their pieces and Professor Whitaker gave them tips on how to improve each song. He even had a few of the MSU students play together with the high schoolers so that the students could hear what the music should sound like from a high-level musician.
MSU was granted an endowment from MSU Federal Credit Union that allows the band to play with an internationally renowned guest artist. The guest artist travels around the state with the MSU band and plays at various venues and schools. This year the guest artist was Sylvia Cuenca. Sylvia has played on the international stage, with many famous jazz performers. She has a big emphasis on teaching the next generation through educational festivals and performances like this one.
After the master class session, came the performance. The first band to play was Galesburg-Augusta. They played the opening song on their own and then Hackett joined them to play a few more. Sylvia even played the drum set for one of Hackett’s songs! After that, MSU played. One of MSU’s pieces was written by Rodney Whitaker himself, titled "The World Falls Away”. It was a dynamic, personal piece reflecting Rodney’s outlook on the world and all that goes on in our busy lives.
This year’s MSU jazz night was not one to disappoint. Hackett looks forward to more in the future!