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World-famous brass trio shares experiences, jams with Bemidji High School jazz band

The Regiment Horns brass trio spent two hours with Bemidji High School band director Derek Wickum and his students on Tuesday, sharing advice about the music industry and jumping in to play on a couple of songs.

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Kevin Lloyd Williams Jr., left, and Leon Silva of The Regiment Horns play alongside Bemidji High School jazz band members during a practice on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in the BHS band room.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — It was hardly just another rehearsal session for the Bemidji High School jazz band on Tuesday, April 19.

Sure, the musicians worked on some of the pieces for their May 2 spring concert. But they also got to meet and play with the three members of The Regiment Horns, who have been the horn section with practically everyone on the pop music scene for the past 10 years.

They toured with Justin Timberlake for seven years and have recorded and performed with Bruno Mars, Coldplay, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Gaga and countless others.

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Derek Wickum, Bemidji High School director of bands, claps as the jazz band finishes playing a song during a practice on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in the BHS band room.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

The trio spent two hours with director Derek Wickum and his students, sharing advice about the music industry and jumping in to play on a couple of songs.

“They’re living the dream,” said BHS senior trombonist Kyler Gonzalez. “That’s what I want to do. Just playing my instrument and sharing music with other people for a living would be incredible. Them sharing their experience with us means the world.”

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The Regiment Horns musicians are Sean Erick (trumpet and flugelhorn), Kevin Lloyd Williams Jr. (tuba, trombone and flute) and Leon Silva Jr. (saxophones).

Later in the week, they visited Thief River Falls with a similar clinic and a concert. The trip was organized by Del Lyren, former Bemidji State University music professor who now runs DGL Artists promotions agency.

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Members of the Bemidji High School jazz band listen to Leon Silva of The Regiment Horns speak during a practice on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in the BHS band room.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“I think it’s great for the students to sit by players of this caliber,” said Lyren, who met The Regiment Horns when they were in Minneapolis to back up Timberlake at the 2018 Super Bowl. “They get a chance to sit right next to them and hear the sound they produce and listen to the comments they make about the band.”

He noticed an almost immediate difference in the BHS ensemble.

“Derek’s got a good band, but it already sounds so much better,” Lyren said.

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Sean Erick, right, of The Regiment Horns speaks about the trio's performance at the Super Bowl LII halftime show during a Bemidji High School jazz band practice on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in the BHS band room.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Invoking emotion

Senior saxophonist Camden Bunker was especially thrilled to spend time with The Regiment Horns. He already knew about them, because he will be studying at the same prestigious music conservatory they attended, the Berklee College of Music in Boston. In fact, they were classmates with Walter Smith, who will be Bunker’s music performance professor at Berklee.

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Bemidji High School senior saxophone player Camden Bunker plays during a jazz band practice on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in the BHS band room.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“I’m really ecstatic to have this opportunity with them,” Bunker said. “The biggest thing about any musical career, especially in our modern music world, is you have to have connections. Any experience like this is a connection.”

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Bunker was clearly enjoying himself while playing solos on baritone sax during the rehearsal.

“A minor goal of mine is to be able to play on Broadway,” he said. “That would be something very fun. But in the long term, I just want to be happy playing music and living a thriving life. Anything is possible in a musical career.

"It always has this sort of connotation that it is a rough world, and it can be a rough world. But it’s not unattainable, and as long as you put in the work and the effort it’s definitely something that you can actually pursue.”

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Leon Silva of The Regiment Horns plays the saxophone during a Bemidji High School jazz band practice on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in the BHS band room.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Wickum beamed as he watched his young musicians soak in the knowledge and skills The Regiment Horns shared.

“Music education is just so much different from music in the real world,” Wickum said. “We’re trying to teach kids how to do stuff, and out there, their job is to make people dance, make people feel.

"It isn’t about teaching, it’s about actually invoking that emotion. Getting those kids to see that was crazy. My students really started to get into enjoying themselves a little bit more.”

He said Tuesday’s experience will benefit the BHS music program in the future.

“The kids will talk about this for the next couple of years,” Wickum said. “That kind of builds and it’s great for recruitment to the program.”

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The BHS jazz band will perform as part of the spring band concert at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 2, in the high school auditorium.

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Sean Erick of The Regiment Horns plays the trumpet alongside Bemidji High School jazz band members during a practice on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in the BHS band room.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Related Topics: EDUCATIONMUSIC
Dennis Doeden, former publisher of the Bemidji Pioneer, is a feature reporter. He is a graduate of Metropolitan State University with a degree in Communications Management.
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