May 6, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica High’s Jazz Bands Hit A High Note At Western States Jazz Festival:

Students of the jazz program at Santa Monica High School ended February by showcasing their talents at one of the longest-running jazz festivals in the region, the 42nd Annual Western States Jazz Festival at Upland High School.

The Feb. 28 event, which unofficially kicks off jazz festival season, provided an excellent forum for the 35 Santa Monica High students to perform among other stellar musicians from across the region.

“Participating and excelling in an event like the Western States Jazz Festival provides such an educational and motivational experience for our students and illustrates our deep level of commitment to the District’s arts and music programs,” Superintendent Sandra Lyon said. “We are so proud of each student, their directors and all those who have contributed to success of our thriving music program.”

Santa Monica High’s jazz program is exceptional in its structure. It operates as a dual enrollment program with Santa Monica College, meeting twice weekly after school. In contrast to the Santa Monica High model, virtually every band at the festival meets as a regular course each day during the school week.

“The fact that Samohi’s program performed so well is a testament to the fantastic music education our students receive, starting with the elementary music years all the way up through the high school level,” Tom Whaley, visual and performing arts coordinator and Jazz Band 1 and combo director, said. “We’d like to extend a very special thanks to all the fine music teachers in our District and each supporter of the Samohi jazz program.”

The two-day event offered various levels of competition for the music groups, from “novice” to “heavy” – an ideal opportunity for the jazz students to hear some of the highest quality performers in Southern California. Students also had the special chance to listen to legendary jazz trombonist, Bill Watrous, who played with the Upland High Jazz Ensemble.

Jazz Band 2, under the direction of Sean Pawling, took first place in its division at the Western States Jazz Festival, while the school’s Jazz Combo earned “superior” ratings and placed second overall in the highest combo division. Jazz Band 1 earned a score of 84 in the competition’s highest division.

Several students were awarded outstanding soloists awards for their performance as well:

Jazz Combo

Glennon Davalos Stanton, junior – Trombone

Andres Orellana, senior – Tenor Saxophone

Jane Wickline, sophomore –  Piano

Jazz Band 1

Julian Apter, senior –  Guitar

Glennon Davalos Stanton, junior – Trombone

Frankie Kohn, senior –  Bass

Zach Gotler, senior –  Drums

Andres Orellana, senior –  Tenor Saxophone

Jane Wickline, sophomore – Piano

Jazz Band 2

Naveen Bahadur, freshman – Alto Sax

Brandon Cohen, sophomore –  Trombone

Matthew Espinosa, sophomore – Trombone

Jessica Fuller, junior – Voice and Piano

Michael Aboutboul, junior – Guitar

In the month of February, Jazz Band 1 students also performed at the Bands at the Broad Concert, Artists for the Arts Concert and two Stairway to the Stars events.

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