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Whidbey jazz concert features six island bands
When middle school and high school jazz bands on Whidbey Island meet, it’s usually to face off in a contest.
However, each year, the Whidbey Island Jazz Society hosts a concert that erases the competitive atmosphere and lets jazz students share the limelight.
On May 15, all six of the island’s jazz bands and ensembles will perform at South Whidbey High School, for the 10th annual Whidbey Jazz Concert.
Proceeds from the event will provide $1,000 scholarships to high school seniors entering college this fall, to continue their musical education.
Oak Harbor Middle School band teacher Patrick Manuel was a scholarship recipient in 1991, as an Oak Harbor student.
The middle school band will perform three jazz tunes including “Blue Midnight” by Larry Neech and “Rice and Beans” by Victor Lopez.
They will follow North Whidbey Middle School, led by director Andrew Judd. The band will play a latin rock jazz blend “El Taco Rocko” by Larry Neech.
Oak Harbor High School director Bruce Lantz will introduce Big Band arrangements, developed in the 1930s. During weekdays the high school band rehearses at 6:45 in the morning.
“That’s like the Olympics of jazz band,” jazz concert emcee Jim Freeman said.
The Coupeville Middle/High School songs will include “Summertime” by Calum Kuster and “Get Smart” by Irvine Seathmary. The Coupeville band performs at all the high school events and attended the Bellevue Jazz Festival this year.
The North Whidbey bands and ensembles will be joined by Langley Middle School and South Whidbey High School.
Event coordinator Jerry Jones said that about $63,000 in scholarships have been awarded to local teens over the years. The Whidbey Island Jazz Society takes donations from playing community events and regular gigs at the Mi Pueblo Restaurant in Oak Harbor to pay for the concert.
Freeman said the show keeps improving each year, because the students get another chance to play music together.
“There’s mutual admiration,” Freeman said. “There are no winners or losers in this, they’re all winners.”
The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. on May 15, at South Whidbey High School. Tickets are $7. A raffle will be held for a DVD of the night’s show.
“Those that go every year get to see how fortunate we are to live in a place with so much talent in our backyard,” Freeman said.
To purchase tickets, contact Jerry Jones at 679-2066.