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All that jazz comes to Oak Harbor

The Oak Harbor High School jazz band, under the direction of Bruce Lantz, practices before school Tuesday - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times.
The Oak Harbor High School jazz band, under the direction of Bruce Lantz, practices before school Tuesday
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times.

A concert known for creativity, well-rehearsed precision and young talent is coming to Oak Harbor for the first time.

The Whidbey Island Jazz Concert, now in its 11th year, will feature all six middle and high school jazz bands from Coupeville, Oak Harbor and South Whidbey Friday, April 16.

“People can expect big band music from the ‘30s, ‘40s and later,” coordinator Jerry Jones said. “It’s fun and high energy.”

For the last 10 years, the show has drawn sold-out crowds to the island’s South End, Jones said, but organizers had always envisioned locating a proper venue up north.

“We wanted to alternate the show every year,” Jones said, referring to the North and South ends of the island. “But we didn’t have a suitable site both acoustically and with seating capacity.”

The Whidbey Island Jazz Society, sponsors of the show since 1999, found their chance last November when construction crews completed the new, 500-seat auditorium at Oak Harbor High School. Reviews of the space revealed good acoustics and an accommodating stage.

“It’s wonderful. We’re really looking forward to it and seeing how Oak Harbor supports the concert,” Jones said.

Friday’s show will feature the music of Oak Harbor Middle School under the direction of Patrick Manuel, Dr. Andy Judd and North Whidbey Middle School, Langley Middle School’s jazz band directed by Jessica Foley, Coupeville’s Middle/High School with director Jessica Barker, Oak Harbor High School under the direction of Bruce Lantz, now in his 26th year at OHHS, and South Whidbey’s award-winning jazz band led by Chris Harshman.

Music programs on Whidbey Island maintain consistently high standards, and many students take private lesson or perform outside of school.

“We have some students from Oak Harbor and Coupeville that play at Mi Pueblo. We have an open mic type jazz session,” Jones said.

Jones added that as the evening will progress, so will the skill level and musical abilities. The high school selections include “Georgia” by Pete Kirkman and “Listen Up” by Joe Jackson.

The Whidbey Island Jazz Concert is a fundraising favorite and has generated more than $60,000 in college scholarships for Whidbey Island high school seniors to continue their musical education. The jazz society has also played music for these much-needed donations at Mi Pueblo Tuesday nights.

The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. April 16 at Oak Harbor High School, located at 950 Northwest 2nd Ave. Tickets are $7 for general admission and can be purchased at Click Music in Oak Harbor, Coffee House in Freeland, Island Coffee House in Langley and Boomerang in Clinton. A DVD recording of the evening’s jazz concert will also be available for $15 to further the scholarship proceeds.

For further information, contact Jerry Jones 679-2066.

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