Last weekend, the 21 members of the Meadowdale Jazz Band I took second place in one of the Northwest’s oldest and most prestigious jazz band festivals, Clark College Jazz Fest.
More than 60 vocal and instrumental high school jazz groups competed in the event at various levels. In addition to Meadowdale nabbing second place, the high school scored with an additional solo award, given to student Dan Hipke.
“Jazz Band I was able to survive the eliminations, advancing their way into the evening finals,” said MHS band instructor David Hawke.
The band performed "Things Ain't What They Use To Be," featuring Todd Hollenhorst on piano, Dan Hipke on guitar, Shahar Lavari on tenor sax, and Pablo Rivarola on trumpet. Other songs included "When or Where" featuring the trombone section and Dan Hipke, and "Famous Don't Pay the Rent,” featuring Rivarola and Lavari. The band also played an up-tempo chart titled "One For Woody."
During each day of the festival, the high school bands go head-to-head against other competitors from similar-sized schools. Each band plays 20-minute selections in front of a large audience and a panel of three professional judges.
According to Hawke, the judging process can be tricky.
“Even though you have professional jazz musicians and University Jazz directors listening to you while scoring specific criteria, you are still dealing in an art form," he said. "One day the band may be swinging hard, nailing the parts, and another day it may be another school who catches the judge's ear."
With several more festivals coming up this spring, the MHS Jazz Band will have the opportunity to pull out some more of those top-placing scores. At the Newport Jazz Festival, the group will defend its overall Sweepstakes win from last year.
Hawke said that his students work incredibly hard to achieve their successes, rehearsing every morning at 6:10.
“It shows a lot of dedication in and of itself being there every morning to blow jazz," Hawke said. "I am fortunate to have groups here at Meadowdale with great attitudes.”