Two Bellevue-area high school jazz bands swept the top honors at the 38th annual University of Montana Buddy DeFranco Jazz Festival held in Missoula, Mont., March 16.
The festival featured 25 bands from Montana and Washington that performed for a panel of jazz music educators. A single adjudicator evaluated every band and selected four “Outstanding Soloists” and the festival’s “Best Sections” to perform during a Friday evening concert.
Bellevue musicians earned all four of the festival’s “Outstanding Soloist” awards. Three of them play in the Interlake High School Jazz 1 ensemble including Mert Celcuk, piano; Amy Schell, trumpet; and Kenji Wagner, trombone. Newport High School Jazz 1 ensemble’s Jason Schilling, trombone, was also named an outstanding soloist.
The “Best Sections” awards also went to the Bellevue schools. Interlake’s saxophones and trumpets took top honors as did Newport’s trombone and rhythm sections. These local musicians combined to form the High School “Best Section” Big Band, which performed under the direction of Rob Tapper, University of Montana’s Director of Jazz Studies.
On Saturday evening, March 17, the Newport High School Wind Ensemble played a joint concert with the University of Montana Symphonic Wind Ensemble. The concert is part of the University’s Student Ensemble Series.
Newport’s wind ensemble performed five selections including “Prelude and Fugue in B♭” by J.S. Bach, which was conducted by Dr. James Smart, the university’s Director of Bands. Montana’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble performed two songs including the ultra-modern “Picture Studies” by Adam Schoenberge. For the finale, the two bands combined to perform “Horkstow Grange” by Percy Adlridge Grainger and “Sonata Pian’e Forte” by Giovanni Gabrieli.
All performances took place at the University of Montana’s historic Dennnison Theatre on the Missoula campus. The Interlake Jazz 1 band is directed by David Kim; the Newport Jazz 1 band is directed by Cory Edwards. The Newport Wind Ensemble is under the direction of Todd Mahaffey and Cory Edwards.