Alton Jazz Confluence Band Moves Crowd Once Again At Liberty Bank Alton Amphitheater
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ALTON - There is something special when a group of high school players lead off a prestigious event - the Alton Jazz and Wine Festival. The Alton Jazz Confluence Band did that this year on Saturday night. The group was a huge hit at the Liberty Bank Alton Amphitheater.
The group of Alton High jazz players - Will Hussey, bass, Nik Tuetken, trumpet, Joseph Hicks, keys, Spencer Leonard, saxophone, and Alex Tuetken, drums, bustle with talent and impressed the large crowd once again at the Alton Jazz and Wine Fest.
The Jazz and Wine Festival is always a celebration of the great Miles Davis, born in Alton on May 26, 1926. A statue is positioned in Downtown Alton in memory of the jazz legend. The boys are following in his footsteps and will help preserve the Davis legacy as the future unfolds.
The boys give Robert Stephan, a former head of the Alton Amphitheater Commission, credit for discovering them and putting them together as a group on stage at the jazz festival first.
Ken Whiteside, one of the organizers of the event, said this after the boys played this year: “I told Nik the trumpet player that he's Miles Davis tonight, our only trumpet player. He deadpanned, "And he's not yet old enough to drive. These local young men are much improved from last year!”
The boys love playing music, whatever type, and it shows when they are on stage.
Spencer said he has been playing drums since he was about 6, and Joseph, Will, Nik, and Alex said they all grew up playing music and were all inspired by their parents and Alton School District music instructors. The boys are versatile and can play multiple instruments.
Stephan, who was chairman of the Liberty Bank in Alton Amphitheater Commission at the time of their discovery, said he had heard of the Tuetken brothers' interest in music, and Jazz specifically. Stephan has now left the commission; Dan Herkert is the new chairman, but still beams with pride about the discovery of this group of boys.
"I had heard of the Tuetken brothers interest in music, but I didn’t know much about them, and had not seen them play live," Stephan said when they were first discovered. "What I did know was they are very intelligent guys so I assumed they were probably pretty good at whatever they were pursuing. Through informal conversation, I mentioned the idea of them playing at the Alton Jazz and Wine Festival to their mom, Jessica. But I had to run the idea of them playing the Festival past Ken Whiteside, our resident Jazz expert, who thankfully loved the idea.
"In my experience with Jazz enthusiasts, like Ken, they really appreciate good young Jazz players. The only issue, though, as they didn’t have a full band, which is where Peter Hussey came in to put the pieces together to form their group."
Honestly, they were invited pretty much on a whim, which in hindsight was maybe a little risky, Stephan joked, given the accomplished headliners they would be sharing the stage with at the start.
"But I’m not surprised at all the crowds at the Alton Jazz and Wine Festival have enjoyed them, and that’s saying a lot because there are some really knowledgeable Jazz fans who attend that event."
The Alton-Godfrey boys said they are available for what they described as “gigs” at any time and they are a very talented group that will no doubt have their own influence in jazz music or some other genre in the future.
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