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Jazz Bands at Olathe East

Olathe East Jazz Program

The jazz program at Olathe East has been regarded as one of the top in the Kansas City Area.  The successful program was started by the previous Director of Bands, Eric Griffin, an active performer in the Kansas City metro area. 


The program currently consists of three ensembles.

  • Jazz Combo- This group is experienced jazz performers that are comfortable soloing and improvising over chord changes. This group is often called on to perform at community events throughout the metro area.  


  • Contact Mr. Smikahl if you are interested in having them perform at your next function!


  • This group primarily meets first semester 4th hour, but will also meet second semester as a pull out group from the regular big band class. In order to be eligible to participate in this class students must first have completed 1st Semester Jazz Band in a previous year. Students must audition to be a part of this group.


  • 1st Semester Jazz Band - This group is for students who are new to improvisation and chord changes. This group only meets during first semester during 4th hour. No audition is required but students who plan to enroll in this group should talk to Mr. Smikahl in advance of enrollment.

  • Olathe East Nighthawks - This is the competitive jazz big band that meets during second semester 4th hour.  Entry into this group is primarily by audition, depending on instrumentation.  This is a very high functioning group considered one of the best jazz bands in Kansas.  Several alumni from this group are professional jazz musicians who regularly play in downtown Kansas City.


Honors and Awards:

The Nighthawks are the two time runner-up in the Basically Basie Competition hosted by the Kansas City Community College Jazz Summit. The Nighthawks have been selected three times to perform at the Kansas Music Educators Association Convention in Wichita, including most recently in spring of 2016.  They have been recognized at the Jazz Summit as one of the Outstanding Ensembles every year they have performed there.  In addition the they have recieved a one rating at events like Pittsburg State Jazz Festival and Baker Jazz Festival.




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