MDI Bands score big at jazz festival

ORRINGTON — The temperature was chilly outside, but the music was hot inside the Center Drive School in Orrington last week at the District VI Middle School Jazz Festival.

Four bands from Mount Desert Island were at the March 4 competition. As a result of their scores, all four are moving on to the state festival Saturday, March 21, at Nokomis High School in Newport.

The 27-piece Emerson Jazz Band received a I rating from the judges, the top rating, according to director Shane Ellis. Bands receiving a I or II rating at the districts are eligible to compete at the state festival.

Emerson performed two swing compositions, “Double or Nothing” and “Horns + Rhythm = Swing,” and two Latin-influenced tunes, “Beach Bossa” and “Cubano Chant.”

All eight of the band’s soloists were recognized for their work and received top ratings, Ellis said. They are Katie Losquadro, tenor saxophone; Carolyn Graber, flute; Irene Choi, trombone; Rachel Carrignan, clarinet; Annabelle Walke, flute; Gabbie James, alto saxophone; Winslow Jeffery, trumpet; and Tristan Higgins, drums.

“They really liked our swing feel,” Ellis said of the judges. “That’s something we’ve been working on.”

The Pemetic Jazz Band received a II rating. Directed by Ed Michaud, the 14-piece group performed Lee Morgan’s “Moanin’,” Sergio Mendes’ “Mas Que Nada” and the Booker T. and the MG’s classic “Green Onions.”

“The kids were super-happy and excited with their performance at the districts,” Michaud said.

Alto saxophonist Breanna Stanley, pianist Axel Eschholz and trombonist Quentin Pileggi received awards for their solos.

The 10-piece Tremont Jazz Band, received a II rating and was praised by judges for being “a small group with a big sound,” said director Wanda Whitener.

The band, which has three percussionists – one on drum set and the others on miscellaneous percussion instruments, performed “Moondog,” the standard “My Funny Valentine” and Woody Herman’s “Woodchopper’s Ball.”

Three soloists – trumpeter Alec Fisichella, trombonist Adam Christianson and bassist Lily Turner – received soloist awards.

Whitener said she is “very happy” with the group’s performance at the district festival, which garnered a “wow” in one judge’s comments.

While not the smallest of the jazz bands, the Mount Desert Jazz Band might be the youngest, with only five eighth graders among its 22 members, said director Heather Graves. The band received a I rating for its performances of “God Bless the Child,” “A Nasty Bit of Blues” and “La Negra Tiene Timbao.”

Soloists receiving awards were Alex Burnett, guitar; Dawson Burnett, drums; Camden Garland, piano; Cadi Howell, trumpet; Chase McGee, bass; and Peter Benson, tenor saxophone.

“They did a fantastic job,” Graves said.

One judge, she added, commented about the band’s “exceptionally high level of musicianship for a middle school.”

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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