For a seventh year in a row, the Northern Chautauqua County Band Directors Association (NCCBDA) sponsored their annual Jazz concert, featuring eight school groups from around the county. The day-long event was held at the newly remodeled Dunkirk Middle School auditorium.
Congressman Brian Higgins opened the show with a few brief remarks regarding his own experiences with music, and the importance of arts programs. Higgins called on the audience to help support funding for the arts to maintain their place in our culture. He closed his speech by encouraging the student musicians present to continue developing their craft, their talent, and thereby enriching the lives of their communities.
The Dunkirk Jazz Invitational began in 2006 by NCCBDA President Robert De Santis and founder Michael Wieloszynski to allow students involved in Chautauqua County Schools music programs the opportunity to hear each other perform.
OBSERVER Photo by Shirley Pulawski
The Forestville Middle School Jazz Ensemble (below) watched the Dunkirk Middle School Jazz Band (above) during the first set of the NCCBDA Jazz Invitational.
In order to expedite the transitions between performing groups, the stage was divided into two halves. Two groups of students were on stage at the same time so one group could play while the others watched and listened. The first set included the Dunkirk Middle School Jazz Band, led by Dave Golando, and the Forestville Middle School Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Jeff Geblein. Each act had fifteen minutes to perform their block of tunes.
After a short transition, during which music was provided by the Dave Golando Quartet, the Silver Creek Junior Jazzers took the stage, alongside the Silver Creek High School Jazz Orchestra. Both groups were conducted by Silver Creek music teacher and NCCBDA founder Michael Wieloszynski. The orchestra rounded out their portion of the concert with a Robert De Santis arrangement of the Who's "Baba O'Riley."
Making their debut at the Dunkirk Jazz Invitational was the Brocton High School Jazz Band, under the direction of Brian Hornbuckle. This group featured several soloists and included War's "Low Rider." On the opposite stage was Forestville High School Jazz Band which concluded their set with a rousing rendition of Larry Neeck's "Hot Java Jump."
The Dave Golando Quartet filled a brief transition with some well-known jazz standards before Cassadaga Jazz Band and the Infinity Performing Arts Group took the stage, both led by John Cross, a band director from Cassadaga Central School.
Cassadaga added two vocalists to perform a moving rendition of Adele's "Rolling In The Deep," and finished their program with a number called "Area 51." The Cassadaga High School Jazz Band and the Silver Creek High School Jazz Orchestra have been a part of the Dunkirk Jazz Invitational since its inception in 2006.
Immediately following the performances was an awards presentation in which each student received a t-shirt commemorating the event, and each group received a plaque for participation. Cross was the recipient of the Ed Turner Band Director's Award, given in honor of Turner, a music educator in Chautauqua County instrumental in initiating many of the county-wide music programs. Sound equipment was provided by Advanced Production Group of Dunkirk.
The 8th annual Dunkirk Jazz Invitational is slated for Saturday, April 20, 2013. For more information about this and other events sponsored by NCCBDA, visit www.nccbda.org.