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BHS jazz band to perform at Next Generation Jazz Festival

Dedication reflected in jazz band success

Ezgi Karakoc, Staff Reporter
Originally published March 4, 2015

The BHS jazz band is one of 12 high school jazz bands accepted into the Next Generation Jazz Festival presented by Monterey Jazz Festival in California on March 27-29. Theirs was the only band accepted outside the state of California.

The 20 band members, which are mainly juniors and seniors, were making their way back to Seattle after performing a concert at a Portland middle school when they found out they were accepted into the competition.

When band director Michael James first read out the acceptance e-mail, he faced silence. Then “it was all woo-hoo, very exciting,” senior band member Molly Wood-Dorner said.

“It’s chosen by a blind panel of judges from the Berklee College of music. It’s very fair,” James said.

Numerous schools applied, including BHS’ neighbor high school Mountlake Terrace, but only 12 got accepted. “They put in a lot of time and energy into not just learning the music, but getting the style down,” James said.

“Usually people appreciate when you have a good vocal. There’s a lot of good singers out there but it’s hard to get the style of jazz down really well. That definitely helped us get into the competition,” Wood-Dorner said of a possible advantage gained by performing with junior vocalist Aisha Carpenter.

The band meets at 6:50 a.m. regularly on weekdays for practices, where they also plan upcoming events together. “We all agreed that we want to play something fun, upbeat and fast, because that’s good for the audience to listen to,” Wood-Dorner said.

Jazz band will perform four songs at the competition. One of the songs, “Rocks In My Bed,” will feature vocalist Carpenter and junior clarinetist Yixuan Hua. The other songs are “The Queen Bee,” “Anitra’s Dance” and “Hunting Wabbits.”

“We’ll play well, but how we compare to the other bands, that’s the unknown,” James said. If they make the top three at the competition in March, they automatically qualify for the 57th annual Monterey Jazz Festival in September.

“It’s exciting that Ballard music is out in other parts of the country, recognized and having a presence,” James said.

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BHS jazz band to perform at Next Generation Jazz Festival