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Live Reviews

The First Annual Disney Jazz Celebration Festival

By Published: March 1, 2009

On the fifth performance the group played the familiar Gershwin vehicle "I Got Rhythm," on which Mintzer and Whigham were joined on the stage by Michelle Weir on the piano and saxophonist Ken Whalum plus four vocalists, who together belted out the lyrics like pros. Dr. Hill was masterful directing each group and mingling in on some vocals of his own. As an added surprise, Dr. Hill called on many of the directors of the various bands to come to the stage and perform the last number, Gershwin's "Summertime," to close out a rich and rewarding evening of jazz music and fun for all in attendance.

The basic theme echoed by many of the adjudicators and celebrity musicians alike to all the students participating in this first Disney jazz event was, as Dr. Hill stressed, listen, listen and listen to jazz music as often as possible: it's the best way of learning on your own. The event ended Saturday night with the Disney Jazz Celebration Jammin' Awards Ceremony, during which all groups were given awards for their participation. A handful of the bands were recognized for their outstanding performances, including the Epic Jazz Choir from Downey High School, who received the award for Best in the Vocal category. The three instrumental bands awarded Best In Jazz Ensemble Category were: Beaumont Middle School, Lexington, KY for Best Middle School performance; Laguna Beach High School,Laguna Beach, CA, for Best in Category (AA); and finally Central York High School, York, PA, for Best in Category (AAAA).

The experience of the first Disney Jazz Celebration Festival is summed up best by the following quote by a participant: "We decided to participate in the Disney Jazz Celebration this year because of the educational benefits that it provided our students. To have the opportunity to listen to jazz greats such as Arturo Sandoval and participate in master classes with Bob Mintzer, is an monumental experience our students will never forget...Every band was a winner." (Joe Bongiovi, Director, Princeton High School.)

Photo Credit

Courtesy of Christine DeMichael and Disney Jazz Celebration

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