SMITHSBURG - Smithsburg High School students watched and moved to the beat Friday night as the man who wrote the song they were performing soloed on the saxophone.
Bob Mintzer, a member of the jazz group the Yellowjackets, traveled to Smithsburg to perform in the 34th annual Blue Ridge Jazz Festival.
Mintzer also wrote "Happy Song," which he performed with Smithsburg's jazz band.
Playing with student musicians is rewarding, Mintzer said before his performance.
"It's keeping the music alive," he said.
The audience clapped appreciatively following Mintzer's solos during "Happy Song."
As he was introducing Mintzer, festival coordinator Gary Rupert called the performer and the Yellowjackets "way beyond what we usually do here." Military or collegiate jazz ensembles usually perform at the festival, he said.
Students also were excited about the caliber of this year's performers.
"I'm really excited to see their bassist play because he's magnificent," said Bret Marfut, 18, who plays bass for the high school's jazz band. He joined the jazz band because of all of the types of music programs offered by the school, jazz is the most interactive and modern, he said.