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Just before midnight...

June 19, 2000|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Marcina Anderson was in fourth grade when she began playing the clarinet. In sixth grade, she took up piano. In seventh grade, Anderson discovered jazz.

The genre allowed her "total expression" in her music, she said.

"You can be free with it It helps you show a lot of aspects of yourself," said Anderson, now 18, who played keyboard with the jazz band at South Hagerstown High School.

In December, she joined the five-member Just Before Midnight Jazz Combo. Comprised of four students and the school's director of bands, Tony Domenico, the combo released a compact disc last month.

Titled "Just Before Midnight ," the roughly hourlong CD features eight tracks, including jazz standard "My Funny Valentine" and Miles Davis' "All Blues."

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It was recorded at Quatro Studios in Hagerstown and can be purchased at Music For A Song at Prime Outlets at Hagerstown, on the combo's Web site and from any group member.

Just 200 of the 1,000 CDs produced need to be sold to repay the money loaned by local music stores Machen Music and Mizell Music to finance the project. Sale proceeds after that will go to fund the recording of a CD by another South High band group next year.

Domenico said he hopes the project will be self-perpetuating and allow one group to record a CD each year.

The Just Before Midnight Jazz Combo was the brainchild of Domenico, 28, a jazz lover and trumpeter who was itching to play again.

He recruited all seniors for the group except for drummer Matt Miller, 15, a freshman.

As the jazz band is already the elite of the school's musicians, the combo is "the elite of the elite," said Domenico, who saw the venture as a way to cultivate the student-musicians' already exceptional talent.

"It really helps them to further their soloing. We do a lot of improvisation," he said.

Members got together on their own time to practice. The group rehearses on Wednesday nights, from 6 p.m. to "whenever."

But that's only part of the commitment.

Bassist Michael Coon, 18, said being in the combo has at least doubled the amount of time members need to devote to practicing.

"We have to practice like crazy, going over the chords, making sure we can solo," trumpeter Adam Hanlin, 18, agreed.

All the work is well worth it, members say.

"We love it. It's fun. It's the closest thing to being a real musician we can get in high school," Coon said.

While Domenico had recording a CD in mind from the start, he said the combo gelled much more quickly than he thought it would and hastened the process. Members went into the studio for two sessions in late April and early May.

"It's kind of hard to believe we pulled this off and it came out so well," Hanlin said.

The combo now has about 35 songs on its play list and is playing at weddings and other events.

The group's Web site is home.earthlink.net/~slannesh.

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