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All Jazzed up to play at state board convention

CANNONSBURG— Her sophomore year in jazz band at Boyd County High School was a hungry one for Crystal Waterman — she skipped lunch to attend the midday practice sessions, preferring the soul-satisfying nourishment of hot tunes to sandwiches and dull conversation in the cafeteria.

“Jazz is fun ... we get to make music, but have fun making music,” said the alto saxophone player, who is a senior.

It’s also challenging, and a welcome switch from the sedate sounds of concert band, said Chris Rice, a senior trombonist. “Classical is pretty, but the sounds you get from jazz are different from what you usually hear ... the up-tempo stuff gets you going,” he said.

Rice and Waterman are two of 20 members of Boyd’s jazz band, and the ensemble’s collective enthusiasm and expertise have gotten them all going — to Louisville, it turns out, where on Saturday they will play a luncheon set for school officials from across the state at the Kentucky School Boards Association convention.

“It’s an honor for us as a group and a valuable experience for them,” director John Johnson said.

For one thing, the audience of VIPs will be a far cry from the adoring parents and grandparents who typically fill the seats at their concerts, he said.

Also, they have half an hour to play through their seven-song set, which is why for about two weeks they’ve been running through the set just about every day — they want it to be smooth and glitch-free on the big day.

The set includes some classics — “Harlem Nocturne” by Earle Hagen, George Gershwin’s “Summertime” and “Georgia on My Mind” by Stuart Gorrell and Hoagy Carmichael, in addition to “Attitude Adjustment” by Larry Barton, “Blue Midnight” by Larry Neeck, “Downtown Tango” by Rick Hersch and “Act Your Age” by Gordon Goodwin.

The ensemble prepared and submitted an audition recording in the fall and Johnson sent it in to the association. Other school groups will be performing, but Boyd’s is the only jazz band.

Members say they’re looking forward to playing for a larger and more demanding audience at the Galt House, the convention site.

They say it’s a rare opportunity for high-school jazz musicians.

They will be leaving Friday for Louisville.

(606) 326-2652 |

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