By IRENE PANIS
Straight out of UHS, The Monks of Funk is a six-piece jazz band consisting of guitarist Surya Bandyopadhyay (So.), bassist Andrew Dimarogonas (Sr.), alto saxophonist Sam Rostami (Jr.), tenor saxophonist Will Lu (So.), drummer Mitchell Rogers (Jr.) and keyboardist Jaimin Patel (Fr.).
The group was formed in November 2016 and has since performed a number of times, including at the UHS Winter Talent Show on January 28, the Orange County Arts benefit concert on February 19 under the name The Wrong Chords and most recently the Uni Magic Club show, “Brain Work,” on March 27.
“The Wrong Chords was only used because we needed a title for a concert we were at and hadn’t decided on one yet,” Rogers explained. The new name, he said, “came from Surya who was really inspired by [American jazz composer] Thelonious Monk.”
While in differing grade levels, all six members of the group are currently enrolled in the UHS band program.
“The six of us were really enjoying our time in the school’s jazz band in past years and wanted to explore the world of improv and jazz more in-depth… Soon our enjoyment from experimenting with different styles led us to form the band,” Rogers said.
According to Rostami, The Monks of Funk tends to play “a mixture of different well-known jazz pieces, [but it] usually depends on what [they] feel like playing at the moment.”
That’s the best part about the band, Rostami thinks. “We have the freedom to arrange and play any pieces that we want, allowing us to be flexible with what we play.”
The band is just starting out, yet the members have high aspirations for its future. Patel hopes to “expand [their] musical horizons and branch out into varied genres of music” while Rostami wishes to “make people more aware of [their] style of jazz.”
The future is still a ways off, however, and as of now the members are just enjoying the experience of being in a band and performing together.
“For me, the best part about being in a band is the moment you realize you’ve connected with your audience during a performance,” Patel said. “It gets you in a state of sheer bliss that can’t be matched by anything else and makes every second of rehearsal and practice worth it.”