High school ensembles from around NW compete at Clark College Jazz Festival

By Courtney Sherwood, Columbian freelance writer



If you go

• What: The 49th annual Clark College Jazz Festival, featuring high school jazz bands.

• When: Continues 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 28-29, followed by finals and featured performances starting at 7 p.m. each night.

• Where: Clark College’s Gaiser Hall Student Center, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver.

• Admission: $5 per day; free for Clark College students and for children 11 and younger

• Information: 360-992-2662, clark.edu/special/jazz_festival.

Some of the top teen musicians from across the Pacific Northwest have converged on Vancouver to literally toot their own horns. They’ll also play a few other instruments and show off their vocal stylings while they’re here, vying to be named best of the bunch at the Clark College Jazz Festival.

More than 60 vocal and instrumental high school jazz ensembles are competing at the annual event, which started Jan. 27 and continues through Jan. 29 at the college’s Gaiser Hall.

Joining them were musicians from eight middle schools, who performed for comments, not prizes, on the first day of the festival.

The high school competitors go head-to-head against peers from similar-sized schools in 20-minute segments that run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Then, things really heat up, with finalists performing at 7 p.m. both Jan. 28 and Jan. 29. Enough fans show up for these performances that people should consider arriving early, said Richard Inouye, Clark’s director of bands and organizer of the jazz festival. Seating might run out.

“Some of these groups play very well, and they play very good jazz,” Inouye said. “Especially in the finals, they’re at the top of their game.”

At about 9 p.m. Jan. 28, the top bands from A and AA high schools will receive their awards, and AAA and AAAA awards will be handed out at about 9:30 p.m. Jan. 29. Also given out Jan. 29 is the top prize of the festival, the 2011 Sweepstakes Award, which recognizes the most outstanding band across all school sizes.

Last year’s Sweepstakes winner, the Garfield High School Jazz Band out of Seattle, will perform big-band tunes at 9 p.m. Jan. 29, right before the final awards are distributed.

In addition, the Clark College Jazz Ensemble will perform several times during the festival. Selections will include “North Shore Evening,” a contemporary jazz composition by Matt Harris.

Inouye said he hopes that jazz fans who don’t have a stake in the competition will still turn out to have a good time and maybe learn a few things.

“People will hear everything from Basie to salsa,” he said. “We’re keeping the flame of jazz alive.”


Jan. 28

A schools

7:40 a.m. Woodland High School.

8 a.m. Ridgefield High School.

8:20 a.m. Ridgefield High School.

8:40 a.m. Tenino High School.

9 a.m. Northwinds Homeschool Band.

9:20 a.m. Adna High School.

9:40 a.m. International School.

10 a.m. Break.

10:20 a.m. Vancouver School of Arts and Academics.

10:40 a.m. Astoria High School.

11 a.m. Overlake School.

11:20 a.m. Washougal High School.

11:40 a.m. Lakeside School.

Noon Clark College Jazz Ensemble; Announcement of A Finalists.

AA schools

1 p.m. Prairie High School.

1:20 p.m. Columbia River High School.

1:40 p.m. Scappoose High School.

2 p.m. R. A. Long High School.

2:20 p.m. Mt. Spokane High School.

2:40 p.m. Mountain View High School.

3 p.m. Break.

3:20 p.m. Fife High School.

3:40 p.m. Milwaukie High School.

4 p.m. Hockinson High School.

4:20 p.m. Washougal High School.

4:40 p.m. Announcement of AA Finalists.

7 p.m. Finals competition.

9 p.m. Clark College Jazz Ensemble; A and AA awards presentation; Outstanding Musician awards.

Jan. 29

AAA schools

8 a.m. Hillsboro High School.

8:20 a.m. Battle Ground High School.

8:40 a.m. Cleveland High School.

9 a.m. Kelso High School.

9:20 a.m. Bothell High School.

9:40 a.m. Mt. Spokane High School.

10 a.m. Break.

10:20 a.m. Mountlake Terrace High School.

10:40 a.m. Roosevelt High School.

11 a.m. Meadowdale High School.

11:20 a.m. Mead High School.

11:40 a.m. Mountain View High School.

Noon Clark College Jazz Ensemble; announcement of AAA finalists.

AAAA Schools

1 p.m. Graham-Kapowsin High School.

1:20 p.m. Heritage High School.

1:40 p.m. Skyview High School.

2 p.m. Puyallup High School.

2:20 p.m. Rogers High School.

2:40 p.m. Lake Stevens High School.

3 p.m. Break.

3:20 p.m. Evergreen High School.

3:40 p.m. Bothell High School.

4 p.m. Mountlake Terrace High School.

4:20 p.m. Battle Ground High School.

4:40 p.m. Roosevelt High School.

5 p.m. Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra.

5:20 p.m. Announcement of AAAA finalists.

7 p.m. Finals competition.

9 p.m. Garfield High School Jazz Band, 2010 Sweepstakes Band.

9:30 p.m., AAA and AAAA awards presentation; 2011 Sweepstakes Award.