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Just a swingin'

May 13, 2000



Swingin' in the Park

Saturday, May 20, begins at 9:15 a.m.

Doub's Woods Park

1307 S. Potomac St.

Hagerstown



Jazz ensembles from Boonsboro Middle and High, Northern Middle, Smithsburg Middle and High, Clear Spring High, Springfield Middle, Williamsport High, North Hagerstown High, E. Russell Hicks Middle and South Hagerstown High will perform. The concert also will feature improv by some Washington County band directors and a performance by U.S. Air Force Airmen of Note. A visual arts exhibit featuring works by Washington County public school art students will be on display.

Free.

Playing jazz in a park just feels right.

"It's more fun to play in an open environment. Jazz is supposed to be fun music," said Brian Hose, 17, a junior at Clear Spring High School.

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And fellow Clear Spring High Jazz Band member Micah Socks, 16, said audiences seem more comfortable reacting to the flow of jazz music when they're outside than when they're in an auditorium.

The Clear Spring High School group will be part of Swingin' in the Park Jazz and Visual Art Celebration at Doub's Woods Park on Saturday, May 20. There also will be ensembles from Boonsboro Middle and High, Northern Middle, Smithsburg Middle and High, Springfield Middle, Williamsport High, North Hagerstown High, E. Russell Hicks Middle and South Hagerstown High.

Each band will perform for 30 to 40 minutes, said Susie Kunkle, music resource specialist for Washington County Schools. Some Washington County band directors may do some improv during the day, too, she said.

The event begins at 9:15 a.m. and concludes with an 8 p.m. performance by the U.S. Air Force Airmen of Note.

A visual arts exhibit featuring works by Washington County public school students will be on display all day.

Playing outdoors, where audience members often are moving around, teaches musicians how to focus, said Elizabeth Reed, 17, a senior at Clear Spring High who plays the bass part on keyboards.

Among the pieces the Clear Spring High jazz group will play at the park are "In the Mood" and "Birdland," the group's signature song.

"Our personal favorite is 'Birdland,' " Brian said. "Hopefully the audience will feed off our enthusiasm."

"It's a fun song," added Daniel Jacobs, 16, a junior trumpeter at Clear Spring High.

The Clear Spring jazz group, which formed in January 1999, was involved in last year's Swingin' in the Park, and looks forward to doing it again.

"We got a lot of ideas last year," Brian said.

Micah said his group considered a change in its look after seeing students performing jazz last year in Hawaiian shirts. For now, they're still sporting white shirts and black pants, but that may change.

Brian, who plays piano in the jazz ensemble, said shifting from Beethoven to Duke Ellington is a big transition, but one he enjoys.

"Jazz is very different," Brian said.

"I enjoy jazz, but I like the spirit of marching band," said Micah, who plays tenor sax in the jazz band.

In order to get in sync, every member really has to listen.

"We try to keep the beat going," Brian said of the rhythm section, but its members also have to listen to the other instruments in the group to get the jazz feel. "We all feed off each other."

That sense of unity is what brings the group together 30 minutes before school starts every Tuesday and Thursday.

"We try hard," Micah said, but sometimes it's tough to sacrifice that precious half-hour of sleep for practice.

Once they get to rehearsal, though, it's worth the lost zzz's.

"Jazz is a great way to start the day," Brian said.

"The songs are in your head all day," Elizabeth added.

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