FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 2, TOWN HALL SEATTLE, 7PM
Roosevelt & Ballard High School Jazz Bands
$14 general/$12 Earshot members & seniors/$7 students
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Students from two Seattle public high schools join this year’s high-caliber lineup of professional performing artists: veterans of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Essentially Ellington contest Roosevelt High School, directed by Scott Brown, and first-time Ellington participants Ballard High School, directed by Michael James.
Roosevelt returns from a two-week summer European festival tour and second place finish at New York’s Ellington contest last May. “With loads of new talent and a strong core of veteran leadership,” Brown writes, “this year’s band is sure to be swinging!”
Brown, a trombonist, loves his job. “As a director, I am blessed to have so many wonderful musicians attending Roosevelt High School. When everyone in the band is ‘on the same page’ musically and spiritually, there is nothing better than to hear them swinging their tails off!”
Ballard jazz band director Michael James, one of five band directors from throughout the nation selected to receive a full scholarship to Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Band Director Academy last June, enjoys his role, too. He writes me about the work: “The challenge in jazz comes in … communicating the emotion of the music from the page to the player to the audience.”
These band directors draw on the pool of professional freelance regional artists to mentor their students. Brown hired saxophonist Stuart MacDonald as assistant director. MacDonald graduated from Roosevelt in 1991. James enlisted saxophonist Gary Hammon to help develop his band. Hammon emerged from the Seattle funk and free jazz scene, studied at the New England Conservatory of Music, toured with organist Big John Patton, returned to Seattle and recorded Fangs in 2005 with saxophonist Hadley Caliman.
Tonight at Town Hall, both bands draw on the rich canon of big band music – Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Sammy Nestico, Neal Hefti – and Roosevelt includes compositions by some of the student performers.
Brown writes, “We hope you’ll hear the precision, AND feel the spirit!”