Guitarist Ben Watson was one of two MDI High School musicians to receive top musicianship awards at the Maine State Instrumental Jazz Festival held Friday and Saturday in Newport. The other student receiving a top award, tenor saxophonist Matt Cox, is behind him is this photo shot at the district festival. ISLANDER PHOTO BY MARK GOOD

Musicians feted at fest



NEWPORT — Mount Desert Island’s high school jazz musicians garnered a bevy of awards at the state festival here that included nine outstanding musicianship awards.

“These results are so awesome,” band director Michael Remy wrote in an email. “I still can hardly believe it.”

Two big bands and four combos from Mount Desert Island High School performed Friday and Saturday at the Maine State Instrumental Jazz Festival at Nokomis High School.

Two musicians – tenor saxophonist Matt Cox and trumpet player Ben Hagle – were recipients of the Dale Hoff Award, which is the highest award given in each division. Cox was recognized for the multi-combo B division; Hagle for division three big bands, according to Remy.

Seven other musicians were recognized as outstanding musicians at the festival. One of them, Ben Watson, received an award for playing guitar in the big band division and for playing bass in a combo. Also recognized were Camden Garland, piano and guitar; Emily Homer, trumpet; Irene Choi, trombone; Chase McGee, bass; and Tristan Higgins on drums.

For this year’s festival, the Maine Music Educators eliminated the traditional first-, second- and third-place awards and went to a scoring system with four categories: gold, silver, bronze and honorable mention, determined by points awarded by judges. Groups getting 95 to 100 points receive a gold rating; 90 to 94, silver; 85 to 89, bronze; and 80 to 84, honorable mention.

Big Group, the school’s top big band, received a silver rating, Remy said. Somes Sound, the other big band, received an honorable mention.

Chainsauce, one of the school’s four combos, was awarded a silver rating. Judges gave the other groups – Silent Oxen, Richard and Funky Dow – bronze ratings.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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