All Peg and I knew was that our grandson Riley was participating in the Riverside Jazz Festival on January 19th at Auburn Riverside High School. We walked through the halls of the high school to the auditorium, past the library and cafeteria where various school jazz bands were warming up.
Meghan Wagner and her people have done a wonderful job of organizing the event. “Meghan Wagner is the director of bands at Auburn Riverside High School where she teaches Jazz Band, Percussion Ensemble, 3 concert bands, and Marching Band. Meghan graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in 2004 with a Bachelor’s of Music Education and from Central Washington University with a Master’s of Music Education in 2014.” The jazz festival has been an annual event since 2014.
Peg and I had excellent seats just a few down from our son Patrick, our daughter-in-law Wendy and her parents Brent and Nancy. I got a quick hug from Riley and he was gone. Each band is scheduled for a twenty minute slot. One band leaves, the next one comes in . . . takes their seats on stage and begins playing their first number within minutes. We saw four bands and they all played three numbers. The event stayed on-time!
We enjoyed each band. The first one we saw perform was from Cavelero Mid High School from West Lake Stevens. This was the only band that didn’t have their numbers printed in the program. The director announced each selection and the soloists. We were impressed.
The second band up was Mt Baker Middle School from Auburn. We really enjoyed Stella by Starlight and a wonderful rendition of Traces with two excellent tenor saxophone solos. What really impressed me was their eleven member saxophone section (all females). I took piano lessons from first grade, and then was introduced to the alto sax in the fifth grade at Park Lodge Elementary. I was selected for the All-Puget Sound Orchestra my senior year (baritone sax).
We had been anticipating the third band ever since we started reading the program . . . no, it was not our grandson’s band. It was the Auburn High School Jazz Band. What caught our attention was their opening number. It was Don Gibson’s I Can’t Stop Loving You, which is an excellent country western tune from 1957. The song had a rebirth when Ray Charles recorded it on his album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music which was released in 1962. The first two bands, either did not use the piano, or the notes did not register with me. This group changed that. A young man from Auburn pounded out the chords and started the song rolling. The arrangement was by Quincy Jones. The song was our favorite of the day . . . sorry, Riley.
Up last was Puyallup High School with our grandson playing the Euphonium. Riley’s friend Autumn was part of the trumpet section. We loved our second most anticipated song, Alright, Okay, You Win. Very nice. Their last song was Critical Mass, which had a very nice alto saxophone solo. The drummer and the base player brought it on home. I don’t know about the other bands, but Puyallup won a “gold” award for their performance.
We really, I mean really enjoyed the music. We should have scheduled more time for the event. We missed the guest artist G7 Dixieland Band of the 133rd Army Band of the Washington National Guard. They have played at other Auburn performances and the band members were the judges for the afternoon’s entertainment. Check out the schedule with Riverside High School for next January. There is no cost for a full day of almost non-stop entertainment. The first band played at 9am and the last scheduled band began at 3:50. We missed St. Louis Blues, Take the A Train, In the Mood, Solitude (another absolute favorite of mine), and My Funny Valentine.
I loved being in the band and orchestra at Clover Park. Besides enjoying music I also had built-in friends. Two of my best friends were also in band. Riley follows in his mother’s footsteps (trumpet) and his older sister Bailee (clarinet/saxophone – University of Montana). His younger sister Laci (flute) is following him. Sunday morning Peg got out her jazz CDs. The Saturday afternoon festival inspired us. Dave Brubeck, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and even Sandy Bradley floated through the air as we read the Sunday newspapers: the Seattle Times and the News Tribune.