Jazz Band performs at NW Jazz Festival
by Craig Sheppard
March 22, 2005
The Pinedale Jazz Band I traveled to Powell last weekend for the 22nd annual Northwest Jazz Festival. The Pinedale band, coming from one of the smallest schools at the festival, has been involved in all of these festivals except one. This year the bands and choirs attending were from Montana and Wyoming.
The jazz bands played for three judges and were critiqued on their overall performances as well as their improvisation solos. They received one I (superior) rating and two II ratings from their judges. Judges this year were Darren Kramer, Eric Gunnison and Brad Constantine.
Mr. Kramer is a freelance musician (trombonist and pianist) that now bases out of the Denver area and is also a jazz faculty member of the Denver Lamont School of Music. He has performed all over the world and with many noted artists. His group (DKO) the Darren Kramer Organization performed for the students on Friday night.
Mr. Gunnison is a pianist and has been a mainstay in the music scene in Denver for the past 19 years. He also teaches at Denver University as the jazz piano instructor and is very active in the local studio scene creating music for commercials.
Brad Constantine started his music education career in Wyoming, teaching at Evanston and Powell. He then traveled to Washington state for 12 years as director of bands in Spokane before returning to Wyoming to operate his own business and then became the chairman of the Yellowstone Jazz Festival Board of Directors.
The Pinedale band is always noted for how many soloists that perform with the band and this year was not different. Singled out for outstanding solo awards were Holden Vargas – bari sax, Coulter Stroud – alto sax, and Forrest Michnevich – pocket trumpet. These three each received a $250 grant/scholarship to the Yellowstone Jazz Camp this summer for their outstanding musicianship.
That night the band went to a concert which had the Northwest College Jazz Band as the opening act. The featured act was DKO, the Darren Kramer Organization of which the leader and piano player were two of their adjudicators. DKO is a world class horn band that performs a mix of original Funk, Jazz and Latin. This group has capitalized on creating the next generation of cross over jazz and brings this music to people all over the world through their inspiring performance, educational clinics and recordings.
The Pinedale Jazz Band I members are Coulter Stroud, May Rose Huntley, Kendall Brunette, Joe Pearce, Mark Pape, Conor Raney, Holden Vargas, Jeff Biffle, Joe Steege, Meredith Noble, Kenny Walker, Andrew Waxe, Marcus Stowe, Colter Bennett, Abe Pearce, Paul Ziegenfelder, Eli Mrak, Cody Higgins, Nate Stroud, Lawson Williams and Forrest Michnevich. They are under the direction of R. Craig Sheppard.
We can’t forget to thank our chaperone Maggie Palmer and our great band bus driver and jazz enthusiast Jack Hayden who really helped make this trip a success.
Now the band is getting ready for the Senior Fundraising Dinner Performance (April 12), District Music Festival (April 15) at Kemmerer, the University of Northern Colorado Jazz Festival at Greeley, Colorado (April 21-22) and then they will perform a home concert (April 26). Come out and watch these young musicians when they perform April 26 at 7 PM in the Pinedale Auditorium.
Photos courtesy Craig Sheppard