NC Combined Jazz Group Plays Tribute to Diaz Family


In this screenshot of the tribute video, NC combined jazz musicians play a second line tune for Mr. Diaz and his son, Mateo. The second line tune is an upbeat tune played during a jazz funeral. “The heart of a second line tune is all about honoring the people at the center,” music teacher Mr. Romanek explains.

Arielle Purcell, Reporter

The NCHS Jazz Band is committed to music, and to each other. They work hard at polishing many different performances, from jazz festivals to concerts, and when they heard about what happened to NC teacher Mauro Diaz and his son, Mateo Diaz, they wanted to do something special. The two passed away on September 24th in a car crash between Casper and Thermopolis. 

“This news hit especially close to home as Mr. Diaz was the father of two of our own band students, Jack and Diego,” Mr. Romanek, Jazz II Director, explained. Mr. Weis,  Jazz I Director, also added “Both of Mr. Diaz’s sons are very involved in the jazz program and he was a fan of the group as well.” 

Mr. Diaz’s effects went beyond Jazz though. Natalie Barella, an NC student who was enrolled last year in one of Mr. Diaz’s science classes, remembers him as an effective and compassionate teacher. “He would make you think through it and help you understand what you’re doing wrong.” This is just one example of how he cared for his students and truly wanted to help them learn and understand. 

The loss had a devastating impact on the community of Casper, and NC’s Jazz Band wanted to make sure that their lives were celebrated.  The concept of the performance for Mateo and Mauro came from an old New Orleans tradition. The idea of this tradition was that after the person was laid to rest, the funeral party would walk behind a brass band that would be playing lively music. 

Once Mr. Romanek and Mr. Weis decided what they wanted to do, they chose two songs. The NC combo, a small group of members of the jazz band, played the first song. These members included Bryce Hebert, Kai Wolz, Mason Napier, and Sofia Newsome.

Bryce Hebert, a member of the NC combo, explains, “The group is normally comprised of up to 6 people.” However, in this instance, a quartet seemed to work better.

They played a song called “There is no greater love,” and the lyrics and name of the song seemed to express how a lot of people were feeling. 

The second song, which was played by the whole jazz band, was titled “Move Your Rug,” which is a second line song. A second line song is the upbeat energetic song that would be played at a jazz funeral. 

The original plan for the video was different from what ended up happening. The songs were scheduled to be played during halftime at the next varsity football game. They wanted the jazz band to perform live, but because it looked like the weather wasn’t going to be nice, they decided that it would be better to play it up on the big screen on the north side of the field. 

However, when the game started, the sound system stopped working. People were working on fixing it throughout the 1st and 2nd quarters. But when it became clear that it just wasn’t going to work, the marching band, who were there playing stand tunes, had to step in and play for half time. Although the initial plan for the performance for the Diaz family didn’t end up working, the video was still put on the Natrona County High School Music YouTube channel. It can be watched here.