Jazz bands had the audience tapping their toes at concert

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Jazz tunes filled the J.L. McMullen Auditorium during the recent jazz band concert that featured musicians from Jackson County Comprehensive High School and West Jackson Middle School.

By KATIE JUSTICE, kjustice@clickthepaper.com

Jazz music was in the air on Feb. 5 inside the Jackson County Comprehensive High School’s (JCCHS) auditorium.

The West Jackson Middle School (WJMS) and JCCHS jazz bands performed for a full auditorium, with WJMS opening the show with “Sweet Georgia Brown,” a tune commonly recognized as the Harlem Globetrotters’ signature sound.

Next, the middle schoolers journeyed into swing with “Tuxedo Junction.”

“A lot of swing had to do with trains because that’s how a lot of people traveled in that time,” said WJMS band director William Kilgore, as he introduced the piece.

The final piece for the WJMS jazz band was the “James Bond Theme.”

“They’ve been able to experience one of America’s true art forms,” said Kilgore of the genre created in the United States.

Following the middle school, JCCHS’ Jazz Band II, took the stage to perform “Saxes with Attitude,” a piece highlighting the band’s saxophone section, “Red Tape,” and a rock song entitled, “Dill Pickles.”

“I was very proud of the students for their performance,” said JCCHS band director Miles Adams. “Jazz Band II only rehearses one afternoon per week, so it’s always a challenge to learn an entire concert program in that limited amount of time.”

Following Jazz Band II, was JCCHS’ Jazz Band I.

“Those students are our best and brightest, so they’re also in various clubs, sports, church activities, and many hold after-school jobs,” Adams said. “They get to school one hour early just to play in jazz band, so I always appreciate their effort and dedication.”

According to Adams, these students rehearse three days a week in the mornings before school.

Jazz Band I opened with “The Opener,” a song that the band has been opening all its performances with for the last 20 years.

Next, they ventured into “Sonny’s Place,” which highlighted the saxophone section that Adams described as “not your typical saxophone section.” The third selection performed was an unusual rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Adams described its as a “little bit church, a little bit Dixieland and a little bit jazz.” The final song of Jazz Band I was “Go Down Gamblin,” by Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

“I choose songs based on many factors: the quality of the composition, the balance of the parts– saxes, trumpets, trombones, rhythm section– and the style. We try to program songs of different styles so the students get to learn swing, rock, Latin, ballad, etc.”

Up next for the bands are a concert on Tuesday, April 16, and then the Georgia Music Educators Association District Jazz Performance Evaluation, which will last all day on Thursday, April 18.

“We usually have 20 to 25 middle school and high school jazz bands perform in that event. They will play for a panel of judges to receive comments and a performance rating. That event is free and open to the public,” Adams said.