Students to ‘jazz’ up music festival

Middle school jazz musicians here on the island are tuning up for their district jazz festival next week in Brewer.

Bands from four Mount Desert Island schools are competing in the Maine Music Educators Association District VI Middle School Instrumental Jazz Festival on Tuesday, March 1, at the Brewer Community School.

As with the high school jazz competitions, bands are rated on their performances by a panel of judges. Bands with I or II ratings move on to the state middle school festival in March.

The Conners Emerson jazz band is playing “Chili Today, Hot Tamale,” the standard “Willow Weep for Me” and “Big Swing Face.” The 21-piece band is directed by Shane Ellis. Soloists include alto saxophonists Gabrielle James and Alain Zhang; trumpet players Sadie Sullivan, Winslow Jeffery and Molly Collins; pianist Edward Choi; baritone saxophonist Kylie Higgins; tenor saxophonist Annabelle Walke; and percussionist Massimo Daul.

The Mount Desert Elementary School jazz band, directed by Heather Graves, is performing three classic tunes. “Sing, Sing, Sing,” the Louis Prima tune popularized by Benny Goodman, features solos by Peter Benson, tenor saxophone; Leao Nelson, trumpet; Jane Pope, baritone saxophone; and Henning Reinholt, percussion. The ballad “My Funny Valentine” is a trumpet feature for Cadi Howell. And “Blues in the Night” showcases pianist Jialan Deal and guitarist Alex Burnett.

The Pemetic Elementary School jazz band is directed by Ed Michaud. The band is playing Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island,” the Kansas City big band classic “Moten Swing” and “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Soloists are Axel Eschholz on piano and Quentin Pileggi, trombone.

Allison Putnam has taken over as director of the Tremont Consolidated School jazz band. Longtime music teacher Wanda Whitener resigned at the end of the last school year. The band is playing John Coltrane’s “Blue Trane,” the standard “Here’s That Rainy Day” and a tune called “Groove Bug.” Kalenna Higgins is the featured soloist on “Blue Trane.” She solos again on “Groove Bug,” which also has solos by Eliza Ramos on alto saxophone and Cedar Ellis on trumpet.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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