Jazz musicians from Mount Desert Island High School impressed both the judges and the public at the Maine Music Educators Association State High School Instrumental Jazz Festival, coming home with two first places, two third places and numerous musicianship awards.
Two big bands and four jazz combos from the high school performed at the annual state festival held Friday and Saturday at South Portland High School. Musicians from more than 30 high schools were represented, competing in four divisions.
MDI’s Big Group jazz band took first place in the Division III big band category, qualifying for the Saturday night finals with scores from a performance earlier in the day. Old Town High School took second in the division.
Big Group played a Gil Evans arrangement of “My Ship” and Thelonius Monk’s “Epistrophy” in earning the top honors. Three of the band’s soloists – trumpet players Hannah Edgecomb and Ben Hagle and trombonist Lucas Wood – were honored with outstanding musicianship awards.
The high school’s other big band, Somes Sound, took third place in the multi-band category. The band’s drummer, Dawson Burnett, and guitarist Ben Watson received outstanding musicianship awards.
Taking first place in the B multi-combo division was the group Beeeeeees?, which performed “Tangerine,” “Misty” and “It’s Alright (Why You Gotta), a tune by Stephen Colbert’s bandleader, Jean Baptiste. Vocalist Thistle Swann and trombonist Pierce Vincenty were named outstanding musicians.
The sextet RATWÖLF was awarded third place in the Division II combo category.
While Sketchy Marmot did not garner one of the top awards, it did receive a I rating, the highest, from judges, according to music director Michael Remy.
The combo Nonet also did not place in the top three but did have a member receive an outstanding musicianship award, pianist and guitarist Camden Garland.
Two other Hancock County schools scored high at the festival. George Stevens Academy received numerous honors, including taking first place in the Division IV big band category. Ellsworth High School’s big band took second in that division.