The Mountlake Terrace and Roosevelt high school bands were the opening act last night for the 2011 Earshot Jazz Festival, entertaining a good crowd at Seattle’s Town Hall. Both bands were celebrating wins at the prestigious 2011 Essentially Ellington 2011 competition, each performing eight songs throughout the evening.
In both cases, the bands sounded excellent. Mountlake Terrace, directed by Darin Faul opened the program, moving musicians around on stage almost every song in order to get the right musician playing the right part to get the right sound. Featuring compositions by Duke Ellington and Benny Carter (among others), the band took full advantage of the use of mutes and the occasional full flugelhorn section. A highlight includes a wonderful arrangement of the Bob Florence composition, Evelyn, Queen of the Racquet Club.
Scott Brown directed the impressive Roosevelt High School jazz band after intermission, with the band playing compositions ranging from John Clayton to Oliver Nelson, to two compositions by current Roosevelt Band members. Their opening tune, That Old Feeling, set a great tone for an exciting, energy filled program.
But the highlight of the program had to be the performances by the pianists in both band. Taylor Griffin, the pianist for Mountlake Terrace showed his ability to accurately interpret the styles of Count Basie and Duke Ellington, while demonstrating his own unique personality as a soloist. For Roosevelt, pianist Chris McCarthy delivered a powerful performance. His performance on John Clayton’s The Jazz Calling was compelling, and his creativity was demonstrated not only in his solos, but also in his original composition, Something Small, which the band performed.
Other opening night performances included shows by the band Endangered Blood, as well as a show by vocalist Elspeth Savani.
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