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School bands team up for jazz night

Jazz fans take note.

The music is going to be hot Friday night at the South Whidbey High School Auditorium as the Whidbey Jazz Concert returns to the school for a 7:30 p.m. show.

For the fourth year in a row, the Whidbey Island Dixieland Jazz Society will be sponsoring this all-Island event. Participating will be jazz bands and ensembles from South Whidbey, Oak Harbor and Coupeville middle and high schools.

Playing in the plush auditorium is something Oak Harbor musicians always look forward to.

“It’s fun to listen to everyone else,” said Kylie Kuzina, who plays in the Oak Harbor Middle School jazz band. “People are really appreciative.”

Larry Wilhelm, OHMS band director, said the trip to South Whidbey gives his young musicians a chance to “perform on a real stage, with lights where they can’t see the audience. It’s a real professional setting.”

“There’s no place in Oak Harbor or Coupeville to hold that many people,” Wilhelm said, explaining why the festival is now held annually on South Whidbey.

Jerry Jones, coordinator of the sponsoring Whidbey Jazz Society, said the event raises about $4,000 per year for scholarships. Originally the plan was to rotate the location between Oak Harbor, Coupeville and South Whidbey, but they made South Whidbey permanent because of its 600-seat capacity.

Now, it’s one of the few places where people from all over the island gather for a single event. “it’s the only place with a homogeneous group of North, South and Central Whidbey folks together,” Jones said. “For a brief moment in time there’s inspiration and enjoyment in something.”

The proceeds from this evening of music will be distributed in the form of college scholarships for Whidbey Island high school seniors. Over $42,000 in scholarships have been awarded during the last decade.

Prior $1,000 winners from South Whidbey have included Anna McLeod and Benjamin Harris in 2001, Eric Bigger in 1999, Eric Lindsay and Leann Hymas in 1998, Trysten Matthews and Trevor Thompson in 1997, Jennifer Johnson, Denice Doll, James Cox and Jenny Ruthensteiner in 1996, Cyndi Wimberly and Emily Robertson in 1994, Karyn Fideline in 1993, Jennifer Zwolinski in 1992 and Betsy Windecker in 1990.

Oak Harbor’s Gary Waltrip and Sarah Boon were among the recipients of the 2001 $1,000 awards. Prior winners have included Christina Queeno in 2000, Taylor Pruss, Eric Wiley and Matt Frost in 1999, Courtney Jones in 1998, Ryan Togstad and Bonnie Hanson in 1997, Ray Shelly in 1996, Sean Owen, Christopher Buchanan and Douglas Meis in 1994, Melissa Hendricks and Christy Lynch in 1993, Adora Olson and Patrick Manuel (now the Coupeville band director) in 1992, Jason Legat, Cameron Williams and Nathan Leadbetter in 1991 and Melissa Rouw and Stephanie Meche in 1990.

Local jazz fans will be able to enjoy Brent Purvis and his South Whidbey High School Jazz Band — recently returned from the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival — as well as the Oak Harbor jazz bands, the Coupeville Middle School Jazz Band and the Langley Middle School Jazz Band.

Conductor of Fun Jim Freeman returns to emcee this event. The concert is not a competition but a showcase of talented youth and wonderful music. Compositions in the musical lineup were composed by greats Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller and others.

Tickets are $5. On South Whidbey, tickets can be purchased at Joe’s Island Music, Boomerang Printing and 1504 Coffee House. On North Whidbey, tickets can be purchased at Whidbey Music, Discount Party or The Daily Grind.

Video copies of the show will also be available from at Discount Party Store for $15 to help generate additional scholarship funds. And, for the first time ever, CD copies of the show will be available for $10.

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