Chavez’s success derives from his dedication to music

By Lucia Vaughan | Artist
Teenagers are not particularly known for being fans of jazz music, but for Marshfield senior Daniel Chavez, jazz has been both a passion and a booster for success.

At the age of two, Chavez and his family moved from Guadalajara, Mexico to the Bay Area to take advantage of new job opportunities and reach for success in America. Chavez remembers going hunting with his father at a young age and accompanying him on expeditions into the woods to watch him cut down tall cedar trees. It was not until the fifth grade that Chavez took up an interest in musical performance when he joined Millicoma Middle School’s concert band as a clarinetist. According to Chavez, his first attempts to make music were less than successful.

“I sucked, and I was really disappointed because I couldn’t even get a sound out of my clarinet when I first started,” Chavez said. “I couldn’t even put all the pieces together.”

But this did not deter him from continuing to develop his musical abilities. To Chavez, music is a creative, liberating way to communicate his emotions when words fail him.

“It [music] lets me express myself and be creative and open-minded. It lets me think outside the box,” Chavez said. “When I’m feeling a certain mood, I can express it. Like if I’m feeling sad or lonely, I play the blues; if I’m feeling love, I play a love song, or if I’m feeling happy, I play faster blues.”

Chavez’s long-time friend, senior Carlos Cervantes, agrees Chavez is someone who prefers to communicate through art.

“He’s the kind of person who likes to express himself through music and other art forms rather than speaking a lot,” Cervantes said.

Chavez discovered his love for jazz in the eighth grade when his friend, fellow senior musician Celena Dawson, introduced him to a local youth musician organization called Oregon Coast Lab Band that specializes in jazz and rock and roll. He was then inspired one year later by former MHS band instructor Dan Reed to get seriously involved in the jazz scene when he joined Marshfield’s Jazz Band. Experiences Chavez has had with the jazz band and other music groups have instilled in him an interest in becoming a music teacher himself one day.

“I’ve heard bands from all over Oregon that are some of the best bands that I’ve ever heard, so I’d like to give opportunities for kids so they can be that good, and then maybe they would be interested in the same as I am in passing it on,” Chavez said.

Through his musical talents and dedication to his art, Chavez has fulfilled many achievements during his high school career, including the creation of his own band called “B Sharp” and his induction into “Evolution,” the most advanced individual band of the Oregon Coast Lab Band program. “Evolution” plays at national and international jazz festivals all over the country, such as the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee and the Sun Valley Jazz Jubilee. Often “Evolution” is the only youth band performing among a great number of professional bands during these festivals, and according to Chavez, it sometimes gets a better reception from the audiences than the other bands.

“I remember one gig, I don’t remember where it was at, but the place was packed and it was standing-room only. There were so many people who preferred us over the professional bands that were playing at the same time,” Chavez said. “There would be people walking by and they would be like, ‘Wow. They have soul.”

During one of his tours with “Evolution,” Chavez was even complimented by famous jazz clarinetist Bob Draga.

“I saw him about two months ago at the Medford Jazz Festival, and when he played with our band he made sure to tell everyone in the audience that I’m probably one of the best musicians he’s ever heard as a youth,” Chavez said.

Current Marshfield band instructor John Kruse believes Chavez, with his degree of talent, will be able to achieve his goals in music.

“I would put him in the top one percent of anybody I have ever worked with in my entire career,” Kruse said. “He’s going to be very successful with his chosen path.”