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South Whidbey beats the bands -- earns first at Hampton Festival

"Stephanie Jacobson won the award for best overall flute player at the festival. Photos by Don WodjenskiThe award winning playersHere's the roster of the South Whidbey High School Jazz Band which finished first in its division at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival.Saxophones: Phillip Coomes, Ashley Lopez, Stephanie Jacobson, Angelique Poteat, David Voye.Trombones:Anna McLeod, Karla Gilbert, Natalie Schmidt, Nick Davis.Trumpets: Sean Edwards, Lucas Tarr, Caysie Littrell, Paul Edgeman, Jennie Westfall.Piano: Patrick Boyle.Bass: Miles Ranisavjlevic.Drums: Roy Gabelein.The South Whidbey Jazz Combo finished second. The combo included Boyle, Ranisavjlevic, Gabelein, Coomes, Jacobson, Poteat, Voye, McCleod and Tarr.Stephanie Jacobson won the award for best overall flute player at the festival. Also participating in solo competition were Gabelein on drums, Coomes on alto sax, and Poteat on clarinet.Get out and hear the bandThere are several upcoming opportunities to hear the South Whidbey High School Jazz Band. Friday, March 23 the band will participate in the Whidbey Island Jazz Festival at South Whidbey High School. It's sponsored by the Dixieland Jazz Band, and will feature all high school and middle school jazz bands on Whidbey Island. Proceeds will go toward music scholarships.On Friday, April 20 there will be a dinner, dance and silent auction to benefit the South Whidbey Jazz Band. The event will start at 7 p.m. and the cost is $15. For information call Dee Tarr, 360.321.7128.On Thursday, May 31 at 7 p.m. the Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble will entertain at the South Whidbey High School Spring Concert. Admission is free.High School jazz band wins top honorAs a band director, Brent Purvis doesn't set out to win competitions. He just wants his kids to play and hear good music. But when someone hands his band an award -- as frequently happens -- he's happy to take it.Purvis and the South Whidbey High School musicians he brought to the 34th annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival Feb. 21-24 at the University of Idaho came home with some prestigious hardware.The Jazz Band was judged the best in its Class AA division, tops among the over 20 other schools vying for the same honor. South Whidbey actually qualified for the smaller A division, but Purvis said he wanted his musicians to compete at the higher level. There's plenty of competion all levels as the festival draws 14,000 young musicians from the U.S., Canada and Japan.Individually, South Whidbey junior Stephanie Jacobson was judged the best flute player among the many at the festival.Groups were judged during the day on such qualities as balance, improvisation, intonation, phrasing, dynamics, tempo, interpretation, precision, articulation, fresh ideas, programming and presentation.Purvis said that when a judge handed him the first place award, the man had only one comment. I've got one complaint, he told Purvis. You guys played so excellent it makes my job hard.South Whidbey's Jazz Band wasn't expecting to win, although its not unprecedented. It was Purvis' second victory at the Idaho festival, which is one of the largest in the nation. So when they did win, it was hugs all around for the director. It was a real special moment as a teacher, he said. The entire band came up and gave me a hug.As a winner, the South Whidbey Jazz Band played in the Instrumental Winners Concert Saturday before some 9,000 music lovers at the festival. The band entertained the crowd with Blues, and Abscessed Tooth, the latter a play on the old standard, Abstract Truth, as rewritten by Matt Catingull.While the band was on stage the announcement was made that one of their own, Stephanie Jacobson, had been chosen the top flute soloist at the festival, regardless of the size of the school.Jacobson, a junior, said she started playing the flute as a freshman when someone needed to play a flute part in a jazz piece and she volunteered to give it a try. She regularly plays the saxophone in the jazz band and the bassoon in the wind ensemble. She said she practices the flute whenever I can, during her busy schedule.Jacobson shared the credit for her honor, which brought her a new silver flute worth an estimated $1,000. She said her parents, Frank and Jane Jacobson, have always encouraged her. Without them I wouldn't be here, she said. Also, she was accompanied in the flute competition by a rhythm section that included drummer Roy Gabelein, bass player Miles Ranisavjlevic, and pianist Patrick Boyle.The South Whidbey band played up to the competition, and then some. I knew I had a good band, but I was definitely surprised, Purvis said. A lot of good bands go to this festival. Besides the award, the band brought home a prize of $500 worth of drum equipment.A South Whidbey product, Aaron Parks, was named the best overall jazz pianist among college students at the festival. He now attends Manhattan College of Music. He was awarded a huge keyboard for his efforts.The South Whidbey musicians got a chance to hear and rub elbows with some of the legends of jazz, ranging from Lionel Hampton to Lou Rawls, Nancy Wilson and many others. It was very fun and educational, Jacobson said. It's an experience to remember. "

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