Schools’ Cool

  • Shanti Hahler<br>Enterprise writer
  • Thursday, February 28, 2008 6:18am

It would take a greatly anticipated performance to sell out a 2,500 seat audience of one of the biggest concert halls on the West Coast, but that’s exactly what five local high school bands did March 14.

Hot Java, Cool Jazz, presented by Starbucks coffee company, invited Edmonds-Woodway, Mountlake Terrace, Shorewood, Garfield and Roosevelt’s high school jazz bands to perform at Benaroya Hall last Friday.

The event, which was created as a jazz show and not a competition, highlights five local high school jazz bands who are chosen based on word-of-mouth and reputation.

“We try to get our feelers out early to find out how the bands are doing and whose hot. We work hard to find out whose happening out there,” event founder Timothy Jones said.

Jones, a jazz fan himself, founded the event in 1995 in an effort to get high school jazz bands more recognition in their communities.

According to Jones, many walk-up ticket buyers were turned away from this year’s sold-out show. This is the first time the event has ever been sold out, Jones said.

Each performance Friday had audience members tapping their toes and bobbing their heads to the beat of the music from jazz legends including Duke Ellington and Frank Foster, and each band received a standing ovation.

The jazz ensembles played several songs, some traditional and others with a bit of a twist.

In their first year participating in the event, Edmonds-Woodway, under the direction of Jake Bergevin, opened the show.

“It was a rage, and we all loved it,” Bergevin said.

Shorewood, under the direction of Paul Harshman, brought a “funk edge” to the event with “Brown Boy”, arranged by Chris Bruya.

“We play a style no one else played there, and we like to bring that to the performance,” Harshman said. “And the funk is what is most relevant to what these kids listen to now.”

Still, Harshman added, you need to show people you can also handle the classics, which was done when the band opened with a traditional rendition of “Shiny Stockings,” arranged by Frank Foster.

Darin Faul, director of the Mountlake Terrace High School jazz band, said that while they have played in Hot Java, Cool Jazz every year since it began, performing in front of a full, packed house “was incredible.”

“Not that it’s not fun to play in Benaroya Hall, but when you look up and see the tiers of the hall full of people, it’s a great feeling,” Faul said.

The Mountlake Terrace band played a few audience favorites, including “Black and Tan Fantasy” by Duke Ellington and “Sing Sang Sung,” arranged by Gordon Goodwin.

After all expenses are paid, left-over revenue from Hot Java, Cool Jazz is divided between each participating school. Last year each band received about $2,100 for trips, activities and other events, Jones said.

Jones, who was unable to attend this year’s event, said that Hot Java, Cool Jazz has grown immensely in the past few years simply because of the students’ and band director’s talent.

“It’s cool to see some of the amazing things that are going on in the high school bands.” Jones said. “It’s like their playing like Benny Goodman; they’re always really hot.”

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