Middle school bands score big

All four middle school jazz bands here on Mount Desert Island are heading to their state instrumental jazz festival after receiving high marks from judges last week at the district competition in Brewer.

Bands from the Conners Emerson School, Mount Desert Elementary School, Pemetic Elementary School and the Tremont Consolidated School are moving on to the state middle school instrumental jazz festival, scheduled for Saturday, March 19, at Nokomis High School in Newport.

Bands getting a I, the highest, or a II rating from judges qualify for the state festival. In addition, the judges recognized many of the local musicians for their outstanding musicianship with soloist awards.

The 21-member Conners Emerson jazz band, directed by Shane Ellis, received a I rating for its performances of “Chili Today, Hot Tamale,” the standard “Willow Weep for Me” and “Big Swing Face.” Solo awards went to alto saxophonists Gabrielle James and Alain Zhang, pianist Edward Choi and drummer Massimo Daul.

Heather Graves directs the Mount Desert Elementary School jazz band. The group received a I rating for their performances of “Sing, Sing, Sing,” “My Funny Valentine” and “Blues in the Night.” All the band’s soloists received awards. They are Peter Benson, tenor saxophone; Leao Nelson, trumpet; Jane Pope, baritone saxophone; Henning Reinholt, percussion; Jialan Deal, piano; Alex Burnett, guitar; and Cadi Howell, trumpet.

The judges praised the band for the energy of its ensemble playing, its intensity and its control of dynamics, Graves said. Howell received special mention for her trumpet work on “My Funny Valentine.”

The Pemetic Elementary School jazz band received a “strong II” from the judges, according to band director Ed Michaud. The band performed Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island,” “Moten Swing” and “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Axel Eschholz brought home a solo award.

Allison Putnam, director of the Tremont Consolidated School jazz band, said her young group received a II rating. The 11-member band performed John Coltrane’s “Blue Trane,” the standard “Here’s That Rainy Day” and “Groove Bug.”

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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