SCHS jazz band wins at Purdue

Halstead honored as outstanding soloist

Contributed Photo Shawano Community High School’s Jazz I band took first place in the small-school division at the Purdue Jazz Festival in Indiana.

For the second time in a row, the Shawano Community High School Jazz I band won the Purdue Jazz Festival in the small-school division, outscoring 14 other bands from four states.

“We knew the competition was going to be stiff; we just went out and played like Shawano,” said senior tenor sax player Marcus Welander.

The 28th annual festival was held Jan. 19-20 in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Shawano handled its opener “Feetbone ’’ with swing and joy, with solos by junior Adam Piantek (piano) and senior Hunter Krolow (trumpet). The Hawks then performed Duke Ellington’s “Banquet Scene from Timon of Athens,” featuring Kori Halstead (alto saxophone) performing in the style of Johnny Hodges.

“This music takes a lot of soul to play right, and I think our band really pulled it off and played with swingin’ passion,” said Krolow.

The band finished with the Chick Webb tune “Lindy Hoppers Delight,” featuring Welander, Krolow and fellow seniors Nathan Meisner (trombone) and Morgan Briske (clarinet).

“To put this in context, we tell the kids to compare this to high school sports,’’ said Christopher Kent, the Shawano director. “Winning at a festival of this quality and competitiveness tells the kids where they rate next to some of the best bands in the Midwest. This is a huge win for us.’’

Kent said the students have really stepped up and accepted the challenges put in front of them this year.

“We are tackling a different style of music, and they have really worked hard and focused,” said Kent.

Halstead was chosen as the outstanding soloist in the room. Kent said Halstead did a tremendous job on a very demanding piece, something the judges appreciate.

“You just don’t come across high school players who sound like she does,” Kent said, adding that a key component of a top band is having several players who can stand out in the solo arena. “All the soloists are strong.’’

Shawano has three competitive events left in 2018: Rolling Meadows, on Feb. 24; the Shawano Jazz Festival on March 10; and the University of Northern Colorado jazz festival on April 20.

Shawano’s Jazz II band made an exemplary showing in its first competition of the year, finishing fourth out of 13 bands and missing third place by only one point. Led by sophomores Haley Lucht (trumpet), Sage Tomashek (trumpet) and Sam Schulze (tenor sax), Shawano earned a division 1 rating. The band is working hard in preparation for Rolling Meadows.