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Jazz Band Echoes Ellington

(Audrey L./Staff)

Music swelled in the air in the Schoedinger Theater on Thursday, Feb. 8, as the Jazz Band performed their second concert of the year from 7:30 to 8:00 p.m. 

The band’s twenty-seven members have been preparing a five-song program for the regional Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival held at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music on Saturday, February 24. The event is named after Duke Ellington, an African-American, pioneer jazz composer and bandleader mostly active during the early- to mid-20th century along with other icons such as Louis Armstrong and Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton. Jazz Band performed a teaser of three pieces in the ensemble’s repertoire during a special assembly on Monday.

As the musicians finished settling in, the lights dimmed, focusing on each one of them. Then, band director Ms. Sneeringer introduced the first piece called “Tippin’ on the Q.T.” by 11-time Grammy winner Count Basie; its explosive trumpet sounds set the tone for the night.

Vocalist Alaina W., invited to sing alongside the band after her exceptional fall performance, sang John Klenner’s “Just Friends” and Nat King Cole’s “Orange Colored Sky.” Alaina’s voice was that of a gazelle gliding through the air. Her soulful style engaged the audience, touching their hearts with every word.

Flutist Indigo K. delivered a noteworthy arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “Bourbon Street Jingling Jollies.” While it is normal to play solos in a jazz ensemble, Indigo’s solo was a classic arrangement performed by Norris Turney. Given the opportunity to perform this one-of-a-kind solo, Indigo played each note with precision and grace. 

The night ended with Josef Zawinul’s “Birdland.” The song starts with a simple beat, then picks up with thundering trombones, then the savvy saxophones, and then the whole ensemble joins in. From a spectator’s perspective, it was the perfect piece to conclude the night. Everyone played with confidence and poise, including solos from alto saxophonist Max B., tenor saxophonist Kate C., trombonist Carolina M., and trumpeter Tanner S. whose explosive trumpet sounds set the tone for the night.

Trumpeter Maria M. said, “We all played uniformly, and we now know what we need to work on to make the band even better on the 24th.” The band will travel to Cincinnati for the Essentially Ellington jazz band contest on Saturday, February 24. The ensemble will continue to practice their performance pieces for the next two weeks, so they can be ready for their competition at the Patricia Corbett Theater at 1:30 p.m.




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