The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Rhythmic Journey: U-High Band was founded through jazz, evolved into friendship

Olin Nafziger
BELOVED BAND: I-94 band, a group of U-High seniors, grew from a love of jazz into a passion these students now have. The name, an interstate highway running through Chicago, represents the groups Chicago roots.

You can hear the music from all the way down the hall: a steady drum beat, interrupted with a symbol clash, interspersed with laughter. Then there’s the sound from a piano, tapping melodies, quarter notes, triple beats. When you open the doors to this space, the jazz room in Gordon Parks Arts Hall, the sounds explode — its riffs and melodies and chords. This is the home of a new band created by U-High seniors called I-94.

“Jazz is very community oriented. It’s all just the musicians interacting with each other. So when we joined, it wasn’t much of a transition because it was just compiling everybody in a new format,” Skyler Albert, who plays the guitar, said.

In an unexpected turn of events, the band has united four seniors, building a sense of community and camaraderie around a shared passion for music, which they hope to share with their peers.

The band’s origin story is similar to those riff sessions — a shuffling of different notes and members until they found what worked out. Skyler Albert, Adam Syverson and Jacob Gazes, remember agreeing to play together, but the group didn’t reach its final iteration until they found the band’s drummer, Alma Francez.

From the beginning, each member has brought their individual passion for music. 

Adam, who sings and also plays guitar, is the primary songwriter. Over the pandemic, Adam’s love for music intensified and he began refining his skills. 

“I’ve always been very passionate about music. Always. It’s been a part of my whole life. I’ve been writing songs for forever,” Adam said.

Alma, Jacob and Skyler all participate in jazz band and were more familiar with each other’s playing styles, but soon after, when the group practiced for the first time, everything began to come together. At first, the band stuck to playing covers but then transitioned to playing more original songs, which they hope to continue to create.

“Adam had sent a few songs before the first rehearsal,” Alma said. “We all learned those, so it kind of was like we came into it knowing what we were doing. Then we already had an agenda, even on the first day, so we just started playing.”

Since then, the musicians have grown closer and developed their skills individually and as a group.

“I think our dynamic is very collaborative. I think actually, considering that we’re pretty much all in jazz, we have an easier time improvising and stuff. It’s pretty fun,” Alma said. “We approach the music with seriousness, but we don’t approach the actual playing and practicing with a real rigidity or anything. So it kind of feels good to be able to just enjoy playing music with your friends.”

The name reflects their bond. Before their first gig, the band had a different name, the Glaggles, which they recalled while laughing and shaking their heads. It was a name Adam could not fully support before their debut. The second iteration was the one that stuck.

Adam said, “I-94 is the road I’ve taken most of my life, and I was just like, ‘What if we call it I-94?’ It’s the road they take to my house when we all practice together. It’s a very Chicago South Side name for our band. I think it fits us.”

A few months after they began practicing, I-94’s first performance was a house show on the night of Spring Fling, March 23.

According to Skyler, who plays the guitar, the show felt very different from a school performance. Surrounded by close friends and peers, the environment felt fun, comforting, and natural.

Jacob, who plays the bass, said, “I mean it was just really rewarding because it was just a chance to, you know, get my friends all together. Senior year has been so busy, and so it was a great chance to see everyone, like close friends and people who I hadn’t talked to for a while. The day can be kind of a blur, but we got to just spend time with them and our music.”

Seeing people’s reactions to their show was a gratifying experience.

“I think as a whole people had really low expectations,” Skyler said, as his bandmates burst into laughter. 

Alma added: “A lot of the reactions after were just like, ‘Wow there’s no way. That was actually really good.”

As they close out their senior year, and their time at Lab, each member is grateful for how this experience bonded them, and they look forward to opportunities to play together again. From practices in the airy jazz room to the show in the packed basement of a friend’s house, each member will continue to cherish the time they’ve spent together with their music.

Jacob said, “I think it’s hard to top the show, but my favorite part has just been getting to know these guys. We’ve gotten a lot closer. It’s been a really special part of our senior year.”

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About the Contributors
Mia Lipson
Mia Lipson, News Editor
Mia Lipson is a member of the Class of 2025 and serves as news editor. She began journalism in the 2021-22 school year as a ninth grader and previously served as an assistant editor. Her favorite story she has written is a profile on retiring P.E. teacher Terri Greene. Outside of journalism, she enjoys running, writing and reading any history book she can find. Awards: 2024 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, staff editorial: superior 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Superior, editorial writing
Olin Nafziger
Olin Nafziger, Photographer
Olin Nafziger is a beginning photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2025. His favorite part of photojournalism is taking pictures of school activities and sports, and his favorite sport to photograph is golf. Outside of class, Olin enjoys biking, watching TV and participating in various school clubs. Awards: 2023 Association of Texas Photography Instructors Fall Contest, sports reaction, third place 2023 Association of Texas Photography Instructors Fall Contest, still life, honorable mention

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    Larry AlbertApr 30, 2024 at 2:49 pm

    The band picture is very casual and relaxing and that makes me believe the music will be the same! Too bad they didn’t get together earlier as they could have paid for college with the proceeds!How about a way to HEAR some of your music!(Skyler’s Grandfather)