Rosemont jazz band took third overall, first in sight-reading at festival

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: JORDY BYRD - Rosemont Middle School jazz band is composed of about 25 students, mostly seventh-graders.Rosemont Ridge Middle School jazz band students recently showed off their musical prowess and cool cat mantra at the Storm of Cool Jazz Festival at Skyview High School in Vancouver, Wash.

The jazz band of about 25 students — mostly seventh-graders — took third place overall and first place in sight-reading at the annual festival for middle school and high school jazz bands. Sight-reading is the reading and performing of a piece of written music that the performer or ensemble has not seen before.

Approximately seven other middle schools participated in the competition. Rosemont’s jazz band also took third place overall in 2011.

Rosemont’s band spent about two months rehearsing its competition songs, “Ran Can Can,” “Perdido” and Billie Holiday’s classic, “God Bless the Child,” under the direction of band and orchestra teacher Ronnie LaGrone.

“The competition went great. It was really fun,” LaGrone said, while warming up the class.

The jazz band meets three times a week at 8 a.m. and has approximately 10 performances each year. The majority of the students also perform in traditional band — two students are also in orchestra.

This is eighth-grader Jake Neilson’s first year in jazz band, although he has played the trumpet for three years.

“I like jazz music, but I like band music, too,” Neilson said, adding that he plans to continuing playing in high school. “But I think think jazz is more difficult to play.”

by: TIDINGS PHOTO: JORDY BYRD - The jazz band performed during the holiday breakfast on Dec. 20Neilson said the jazz band did really well overall. His favorite song from the festival was “Ran Can Can.”

“My favorite was probably ‘Ran Can Can’ because I had a solo in it,” he said. “This is my first one. I was kind of nervous, but it went pretty well.”

Seventh-grader Avery Feuerborn has been playing the trumpet for a year and a half. This is her first year in jazz band, although she also plays the French horn in band.

“I just love jazz music. It’s more upbeat than band,” she said. “It’s more difficult and there are a lot of different rhythms and harder notes to hit.”

Her favorite song from the competition was “God Bless the Child” because of the saxaphone solo.

Feuerborn said the band’s first place scoring in sight-reading made her “so happy.”

“I was nervous about the sight-reading because it’s really hard,” she added.

Eighth-grader Neil Yotsuya has played the trombone for three years. He chose to play the trombone because a neighborhood friend got one for his birthday in sixth grade and the duo wanted to play together.

Yotsuya plays in general band and has been in jazz band for two years.

“Jazz band is tougher,” he said. “The trombone plays basic music in band but in jazz band it has a more complex part. It’s a lot of fun.”

Yotsuya’s favorite song from the festival was “Perdido” — even though he forgot his music — because he got to play with the trumpets.

Rosemont Ridge Middle School jazz band will perform next at the Bellevue Jazz Festival on Feb. 1.

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