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March 06, 2008
PALOUSE, Washington (STPNS) -- The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival week kicked off for Garfield- Palouse with the Jazz In The Schools Assembly Tuesday, February 19 in the Palouse lower gym. Wally Gator Watson, Christian Fabian and Kuni Mikami arrived for the assembly and G-P students put on a mini-concert for the stars!
The Jazz band played three pieces. Erin Reams sang and the Combo played their Ballad. Wally and Christian were very impressed and used Ian Yoder and Erin Reams to help them during the assembly. Ian got to play drum set with Christian and Kuni, and Erin did a "call and response" with the crowd, assisted by Wally.
"So Cool!" Ruth Vertrees, GP music instructor, said. "I guess we must have made an impression because Saturday, waiting for the bus Christian recognized me and several of our students and conversed with us ? he even remembered our names!"
Alex Keeney from GPMS and Michael Conklin from Oakesdale both competed in the MS-JH division Wednesday, February 20 at the Commons I, Whitewater- Clearwater Room. Conklin won with Keeney coming in close behind him.
Erin Reams competed in the Alto Solo Division Friday, February 22, at the Nazarene Church. Despite a cold and scratchy throat Erin did well. This was her first time out in such a big venue and singing in the jazz genre. The stage on which she performed was makeshift of boxes covered by carpeting. Her heels kept falling between the boxes and she was worried about falling over so she was unable to move about as she sung. Something else for the festival to think about! She is already planning for next year and is listening to a lot of Ella Fitzgerald and other jazz greats.
Saturday, February 23 the Jazz Band and Combo traveled to Moscow. The Jazz Band performed at the University Auditorium and played their best. They didn't place in the top three, but out of 19 bands they came in the top third of the competition. Alex Keeney and Ian Yoder were singled out by the critique judge, Lee Shook, as "top notch."
The Combo (Chris Thurman, Ian Yoder, Heather McGehee and Alex Keeney) performed at the Ag Science Building Auditorium later that afternoon. They premiered two of Chris Thurman's original compositions and placed second in the competition. They were beat by Wellington Secondary II, a Canadian school from Nanaimo BC.
"We finally got to hear 'Garfield- Palouse' announced over the big PA at the Kibbie Dome Winner's Concert and scream," Vertrees said. "Actually the festival calls it 'Special Adjudicator's Award' instead of second and third. We were announced right after the winner, so that's what it means. I don't know who was after us because we (me) were screaming so loud."
"We still had other adventures Saturday. The bus broke something, and fluid was leaking out of the axel," Vertrees commented. "Tom, our bus driver and totally cool guy, had to leave us on campus, with all our gear, and go get another bus. Unfortunately all the good busses were in Yakima with State Basketball. He was finally able to find a bus that would hold all 23 of us, and our gear. It was a tiring day hauling all that gear around, but our students handled it well and didn't complain too much!"
The music students (and tired adults) arrived home, in Palouse around 7 p.m., with tired feet, arms and ears.
"The kids were fantastic!" Holly White said. "The whole band performed in the B division and it was the best performance that I have seen from them. The judge had really nice comments about the entire band and said that both Alex Keeney's solo performance and Ian Yoder's drumming deserved honorable mention. The Gar-Pal combo group comprised of Chris Thurman, Heather McGehee, Alex Keeney, and Ian Yoder, received an Honorable mention at the Winner's Circle Saturday evening. Alex Keeney took second place in the alto saxophone division."
See a video on The Boomerang website of the combo band in their 2nd place winning presentation at the International Lionel Hampton Jazz festival - www.the-boomerang.com
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