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Jazz concert hits right note

May 16, 2004|By CANDICE BOSELY

HAGERSTOWN

A cool breeze blew in with Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," bringing dark clouds with it.

Not even the threat of rain, though, could dampen the spirits of the players and audience members for the All-County Jazz Band.

The Saturday evening performance capped off a daylong jazz show at Hagerstown Community College's Alumni Amphitheater. High school bands from throughout the county played.

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"Right now, it's my life," South Hagerstown High School junior Tyler Sosby said of music.

Sosby, 16, plans on majoring in music education and jazz studies in college and said he would like to one day play in a big band, such as the Navy Commodores.

Sosby played the alto saxophone during the all-county show, punctuating pieces with impassioned solos.

Fourteen students played in the all-county band before an audience of about 100. Guest composer Chris Vadala, director of jazz studies and professor of saxophone at University of Maryland, led the musicians.

Songs played included "Stolen Moments" by Oliver Nelson, "Well You Need It" by Thelonious Monk and "Splanky" by Count Basie.

Instruments played in the show included saxophones, trombones, trumpets, a keyboard, a bass, a set of drums, a guitar and, on one song, a flute.

Vadala said he used songs that, following jazz tradition, offer a chance for soloists to shine. Obliging audience members greeted each such performance with applause.

"I enjoyed working with them," said Vadala, who was able to hold just one rehearsal with the group. "They came together real quick."

After the show, some of the performers thanked each other, and a trumpeter told Sosby it had been a pleasure playing with him.

As the rain started to fall minutes after the show ended, students were packing up their instruments, stacking music stands and clearing off the stage.

Sarah Hurd, a senior at Smithsburg High School, played baritone saxophone during the performance and had the show's only flute solo.

Normally, though, she's an oboist. Classical music is her forte and she plans to pursue a career performing on the oboe.

Hurd, 17, already has been accepted to Peabody Institute, Duquesne University, Towson University and Shepherd University. She's working on an audition with the University of Maryland.

"It was really fun," Hurd said of her first performance with the all-county band. Although jazz is not the genre of music she is most comfortable with, she said her fellow performers made the show an enjoyable one.

Audience members likely concurred.

At the amphitheater, a couple of toddlers slapped their shoes into a sidewalk puddle, a small rabbit darted in the nearby grass and the clink of aluminum bats could be heard in the distance.

Among the green seats, however, all eyes were on the stage as knees, feet and heads bobbed to the beat of the county's standout student musicians.

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