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Trumpeter Austin Ford, Sunset Jazz Band score big at Reno Jazz Festival

Ford is named the Outstanding Trumpeter among all high school bands

SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Sunset Jazz Band celebrates its first-place win in the AA category at the Reno Jazz Festival, held April 30-May 2 at the University of Nevada, Reno.In a placed billed as “The Biggest Little City in the World,” Sunset sophomore Austin Ford and the Sunset Jazz Band showed that they were a pretty big deal, too.

Ford and the Apollos, competing in the Reno Jazz Festival from April 23-25, showed that they could hold their own with the best players in the western half of the United States. Ford was named the Outstanding Trumpeter for all high school divisions at the festival, while the Sunset Jazz Band placed first in the AA high school band category.

“To do it as a sophomore is just priceless,” Sunset band director Greg Hall said of Ford's honor. “He's really blossomed this year. I feel the sky is the limit for this kid.”

Ford, who played three solos at the festival, has been playing the trumpet since he was 11 years old with instruction from Cedar Park teacher Kelly Archer and private instructor Carol Smith. In middle school, he was chosen for the All-State Middle School band in 2013, received the Directors Cup award in the eighth grade, and has played for Sunset's Marching Band, Jazz Band, Wind Ensemble, Funk Band and Pit Orchestra.

“Austin just loves trumpet. He loves the complexity of transcribing music and playing the music,” said his mother, Cristie Ford. “He has just found a passion for his trumpet that he just can't get enough of.”

“He came in as an eighth grader for an audition, and you could just tell ... how he carried himself — he was a diamond in the rough,” Hall added.

Ford had plenty of help, though. Also winning individual honors in Reno were: junior Evan Lei, Outstanding Guitar in the AA category; freshman Andreas Moreno, Outstanding Drummer in the AA category; and Spencer Wagner, Outstanding Bass Player in the AA category.

That quartet, along with the rest of the Sunset Jazz Band, made the school's sixth appearance at Reno one of its best. There, competing in a field of bands from 300 middle schools, high schools and colleges from the northwest, west and midwest, Sunset not only played well, but also learned a lot.

“It's such a great thing for the kids to witness,” Hall said. “There's so many great jazz bands and instructors — just the educational aspect is so good.”

Students had the chance participate in master classes for their specific instrument, enjoying the opportunity to learn from and hear from some of the top performers and instructors in the country.

“To see and hear masters in their fields doing it, it's a real eye-opener,” Hall said. “That 'Wow' factor is just multiplied and hammered home.”

The Sunset Jazz Band has two performances remaining this year. In the first, set for 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 19, Sunset opens for Mel Brown at Jimmy Mak's, 221 N.W. 10th Ave. in Portland; in the second, Sunset will play its Senior Sendoff Concert at 7 p.m. May 21 in the Sunset High School auditorium.


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