Photos: The King's Academy Jazz Ensemble Debuts at 54 Below

Director Wes Lowe hosted the night of jazz.

By: Feb. 19, 2024
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.




Existing user? Just click login.

Spectacular, awe-inspiring, and sensational were all words being uttered by the audience after The King’s Academy Jazz Ensemble’s high-energy, horn-powered, Big Apple style weekend performance at the iconic 54 Below. In that intimate and elegant room, these students matched the part with their classy black suits and stunning stylish dresses. Their debut show in New York City called “Students of the Songbook” gifted listeners with a youthful and reimagined spin on many jazz favorites. TKA Jazz performed with a level of confidence and excellence often reserved for season veterans.

Band Leader Wes Lowe hosted the night of jazz. Due to the limited space on the stage, Mr. Lowe introduced the songs and players stage right. He would then step off stage allowing his band of twenty high school and middle school students to masterfully make their instruments sing as he trusted them to navigate the night musically under their own direction.

Between lead trombonist Julia Basile who wowed the audience with her rendition of Black Orpheus, Julia Drahos on lead trumpet, and Stephen Boylan on lead alto sax, the lead horns kept a tight energetic performance all night. The rhythm section of drummer Ashton Horne, bassist Hadiya Stewart, and pianist Breck Dorow played in the pocket behind the horns in absolute perfection. Early on I noticed how young middle school trumpeter William Smith phrased like Louis Armstrong, letting his solo melodies breathe as they also swung. Soon however, I realized that they all did this as well. This young band of instrumentalists and soloists play well beyond their years.

Changing up the mood, Wes Lowe called upon several beautiful and talented ladies to add their vocal talents to the night. Ella Garcia, although new to the group, sang classics such as “It Had to Be You” with a soulful tone. Current Young Artist Award Winner from the Society for the Preservation of the Great American Songbook, Maddie Begin, sang show-stopping numbers such as “Feeling Good” and “But The World Goes Round.” She is a name to remember with a powerhouse voice you won’t forget. And making a surprise appearance, TKA Jazz alumni Annie Matot graced the stage singing the classic “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.” These young women took the audience from sing-along moments to complete moments of absolute awe.

In addition to TKA Director of Instrumental Arts and Band Leader Wes Lowe entertaining skillfully as the host, his colleague, Associate Director of Instrumental Arts, Mickey Smith Jr. also played the hottest solo of the night with his rendition of the Bill Wither’s classic “Just the Two of Us” on the alto sax. With that being said, everyone’s solos packed melodic invention in a confident swagger. Even more fun were the breathtaking syncopated conversations when the horns all played full force. The energy in the room was palpable for the entire evening. This was a hot performance on a cold night in New York City at 54 Below that was above and beyond anything anyone could have expected.

Photo Credit: Stephen Sorokoff 

Photos: The King's Academy Jazz Ensemble Debuts at 54 Below
The King's Academy Jazz Ensemble

Photos: The King's Academy Jazz Ensemble Debuts at 54 Below
Wes Lowe, Director

Photos: The King's Academy Jazz Ensemble Debuts at 54 Below
The King's Academy Jazz Ensemble

Photos: The King's Academy Jazz Ensemble Debuts at 54 Below
Mickey Smith Jr.

Photos: The King's Academy Jazz Ensemble Debuts at 54 Below
Julia Basile

Photos: The King's Academy Jazz Ensemble Debuts at 54 Below
Maddie Begin

Photos: The King's Academy Jazz Ensemble Debuts at 54 Below
Annie Matot

Photos: The King's Academy Jazz Ensemble Debuts at 54 Below
Maddie Begin

Photos: The King's Academy Jazz Ensemble Debuts at 54 Below
The King's Academy Jazz Ensemble



Videos