BREWER, Maine — Brewer Middle School’s jazz band played their hearts out at the 2011 State Middle School Instrumental Jazz Festival held over the weekend in Millinocket and brought home the event’s top award for its division.
The group of 21 six-, seventh- and eighth-graders played “Blues Walk” by Clifford Brown; “Traces,” a ballad arranged by Sammy Nestico; and “Tiger of San Pedro” by John LaBarbera to knock the socks off the judges and nudge Old Town’s Leonard Middle School out of the coveted top spot they have held for the last 17 years.
“The three contrasting styles of pieces showcased the diverse talents of the band,” Lanissa Nadeau, Brewer Middle School’s band director, said on Monday.
Around 35 schools from throughout the state send ensembles to compete at the annual middle school jazz festival. The Maine Music Educators’ Association sponsors the annual jazz festival, which this year was held at Stearns High School.
“All of Brewer’s soloists received outstanding musicianship certificates,” Nadeau said.
Greg Warmuth on alto saxophone and piano, Christopher Harris on trumpet, Mason Duplissie on trombone, Josh Donnelly on trombone, Katherine Larochelle on tenor saxophone and Peter Hilyard on drum set all received certificates.
“Hilyard [also] was awarded one of five outstanding musicianship trophies for his excellent performance on the drum set,” Nadeau said.
Last year, Brewer placed second behind the Leonard Jazz Ensemble from Old Town, who have “a reputation for a fine music program with a high level of participation,” Nadeau said.
The middle school jazz musicians worked hard to earn the top prize, Nadeau said.
“Half of the band was new to the jazz band this year, including the entire rhythm section,” she said. “It was a ‘building year’ and the students worked extremely hard and improved so much. Our focus has never been on winning, but on performing to the best of our ability.”
For those who missed the weekend performances, the jazz band is performing 7 p.m. Tuesday night in the Brewer Middle School’s gym. The concert also will include Nokomis High School’s jazz band and The Queen City Big Band, an adult community jazz band made up of musicians from the Bangor-Brewer area.