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A swingin' time was had by all at jazz show

May 21, 2001

A swingin' time was had by all at jazz show



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer


Kevin Willis stepped to the front of his jazz band at the "Swingin' in the Park" show Saturday afternoon and led the group like a pro.

Fat, bluesy notes flowed from the 17-year-old's trombone as he and the Williamsport High School group made their way through "Basin Street Blues."

Then they gave their performance some swing with "Thazit." Willis continued to play out front, trading licks with trumpet player Justin Emery.

Emery was finding the high notes, to the crowd's delight, and the song chugged along to Duane McNarrin's heavy drumming.

"There's a lot of good jazz, that's all I can say. The acoustics are great down here," said spectator Dave Stimmel.

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The third installment of the jazz show was held at the new Alumni Amphitheater at Hagerstown Community College. It was a perfect day for jazz: clouds kept it from getting too hot and an occasional light breeze cooled players and spectators alike.

Spectators tapped their feet to the beat, and a woman slowly danced with an infant boy in the aisle near the front.

The all-day show showcased a dozen of Washington County's middle and high school bands.

For the Williamsport jazz band, getting the sound they wanted meant getting up every weekday at 7:30 a.m. to practice at school. Willis said he has been playing since he was in fourth grade.

"When I was a kid, I used to see trombone players in parades and it intrigued me," said Willis.

Willis said he plays mostly as a hobby, although the senior may get more serious about his intrument when he goes to Shepherd College.

"I'm considering a minor in music, but I'm not sure yet," he said.

The Williamsport High group was followed by a jazz emsemble from Springfield Middle School.

It was a younger group, but you could hardly tell.

The young students stepped onto the stage sporting blue suits, white dress shirts, black bow ties and black dress hats.

They played numbers like "Please, Please Me" by the Beatles and "California Dreamin'."

Band director Garman Bowers Jr. told the audience the story about how he auditioned students for the lead horn solo in "California Dreamin'." Kristin Berry, an alto saxophone player, and David Nase, a tenor saxphone player, both sounded good and Bowers said he dreaded having to choose between the two.

Then the principal of the school commented that they sounded good together. Bowers decided to let them both handle the lead portion.

"I thought, 'That does sound good.''' Bowers said.

The jazz show extended throughout the day and night, and about 100 people came out for the shows in mid-afternoon. The finale took place in the evening, when Scott Silbert, saxophonist and arranger with the U.S. Navy Jazz Band Commodores, led the All-County High School Jazz Band.

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