Jazz bands from Mount Desert Island’s four K-8 schools and the Trenton Elementary School are honing their chops in anticipation of the Maine Music Educators District VI Instrumental Jazz Festival scheduled for Friday at the Brewer Community School.
Bands receiving a one or two rating from judges will move on to the state festival, set for Saturday, March 25, at Stearns High School in Millinocket.
Two schools, the Conners Emerson School in Bar Harbor and the Mount Desert Elementary School in Northeast Harbor, took top honors in their divisions at last year’s state festival. The Pemetic Elementary School in Southwest Harbor placed second in their division at the state competition.
The 24-member Mount Desert Elementary jazz band is to perform “Blue Madness,” which director Heather Graves described as a “heavy swinging blues” featuring the band’s trombone section. The tune includes solos by Jane Pope on alto saxophone and Alex Burnett on guitar. Burnett again is featured on Count Basie’s “Blue and Sentimental,” which also showcases Sarah Knox on trumpet. The band’s set will conclude with “Mambo Hot,” which Graves called “blazing.” Soloists are Brendan Graves and Reider Watson on trombones and Leao Nelson on trumpet.
The Conners Emerson band, directed by Gene Gill, is performing Quincy Jones’ “Birth of a Band,” Luiz Bonfa’s bossa nova “A Day in the Life of a Fool” and “Cute,” a Neal Hefti chart popularized by Count Basie.
Soloists On “Birth of A Band” are alto saxophonist Alain Zhang, pianist Edward Choi and bassist Jacob Lurvey. The bossa nova features Sadie Sullivan and Molly Collins on trumpets and Sabine Costello-Sanders on baritone saxophone. “Cute” is a vehicle for drummer Massimo Daul.
The Pemetic jazz band, directed by Ed Michaud, is performing the samba “Brazil,” Oliver Nelson’s jazz classic “Stolen Moments” and the Tuvan folk song “Dyngyldai.”
Michaud said he was inspired to write an arrangement of “Dngyldai” after a visit to the remote Russian republic and hearing it performed live at a music festival.
“It was a crowd favorite and now one of my students’ favorites,” Michaud wrote in an email.
Soloists for the Pemetic band are alto saxophonists Weston Granholm and Jacob Peabody, trombonist Quentin Pileggi and Sylvester Mays on trumpet.
The Tremont Consolidated School jazz band has grown musically in the last year, according to director Allison Putnam, and her students are looking forward to performing at the festival.
The band is playing “Free Ride,” which has trumpet solos by Cedar Ellis and Alicia Thurston. Hoagy Carmichael’s enduring classic “Georgia on My Mind” features solos by Kalenna Higgins and Hannah St. Armand on tenor saxophones, Cedar Ellis and Alicia Thurston on trumpets and Eliza Ramos on alto saxophone. Closing the band’s set is Herbie Hancock’s funk tune “Chameleon,” which has solos by Ramos and Thurston.
This is the first year the Trenton Elementary School has fielded a jazz band. The band’s director Mary de Koning said she decided to start the band because she had so many students interested in playing jazz. The 17-member group is playing the Weather Report tune “Birdland,” “Blue Midnight” and the Bobby Troupe song “Route 66.” Soloists on “Blue Midnight are alto saxophonist Philip Catanese, pianist Louis Philbrook and Zander McCannis on trumpet. “Route 66” features tenor saxophonist Maggie Nadeau.
Snow date for the district festival is Saturday.