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Dos Pueblos Jazz Band Hits the Right Notes at Festival

Practice pays off as the students bring home the first-place prize from Reno

Thanks to the Kansas City Suite, tons of practice and killer solos, the Dos Pueblos High School Jazz Band came home recently with the first-place prize in its division from the Reno Jazz Festival.

“We were in competition with some very, very excellent schools,” Dos Pueblos Jazz Director Les Rose said.

More than 300 schools from the Western states converged at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus last week for a series of jazz clinics, competitions and concerts. Santa Barbara High School came in fourth in the same AAA division.

Especially sweet for the Dos Pueblos members is that they shed their dark horse status in this competition.

“It’s a small fraternity of schools that seem to win this,” Rose said. About 10 schools tend to share the victory, he said. DP hasn’t been in the fraternity for about 20 years.

“We practiced a lot,” trombonist Mariel Bildsten said. “We had after-school practices, and I think it gave us that extra cleanness.”

The practices served the players well when they made it to Reno and had to adjust to the altitude, and when they finally got to their 25-minute performance set. When they got to the stage, Rose said, they found it too acoustically live, forcing the group to make last-minute adjustments to the volume.

“I told them they had to take their dynamics and cut them in half, play twice as soft as they’ve ever played,” Rose said.

The challenge didn’t faze them, however.

“We really had exceptional solos,” Rose said, pointing out Kim Brueckner on tenor sax, Miles McIntosh on guitar, Brendan Morrow-Jones on trumpet, Christian Edstrom on drums and Nick Scarvelis on lead trumpet.

“I noticed during the performance that it was some of the best trumpet playing that I’ve ever heard from my groups,” Rose said.

They may be back in the Good Land, but the work and fun aren’t over yet. On Monday, the Dos Pueblos Jazz Band will play its third annual Spring Swing, a yearly fundraiser at the Santa Barbara Elks Lodge, 150 N. Kellogg Ave. The community is invited.

“I felt that it would be important to have an event where people can come and dance to our music,” Rose said. The Elks have been generous in letting the band use its facility, he said.

For those who could use a little instruction or a refresher in swing dancing, local dance instructor Derrick Curtis will be on hand to show people the steps.

This year’s highlight at the party will be the unveiling of the jazz band’s CD, a recording of the Kansas City Suite, a well-loved but seldom recorded major work composed by saxophonist and trumpeter Benny Carter in the 1960s in honor of Count Basie.

“The kids haven’t heard it, they haven’t seen it,” said Rose, who has heard it and seen it. “It’s fantastic.”

It takes only $5 to get into the dance party, and copies of the CD are $15. All proceeds benefit Dos Pueblos’ music program.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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