Arts and Entertainment

Blissful jazz on tap


Staff writer

For real jazz, check out Illahee Junior High School May 9 at 6 p.m.

That’s according to Wayne Bliss, Illahee’s band teacher and a jazz bassist himself. The sixth annual Illahee Band Dinner and Auction will feature professional drummer Garey Williams accompanied by the Illahee jazz band, a 23-member group that recently placed second at the Bellevue Community College Jazz Festival.

Speaking of his students’ high caliber, Bliss said the group meets before school, which means that they have dedicated parents and that they themselves are high-end achievers. Two of the band members –– Jenna Warren, a ninth-grade sax player, and Brian Schrader, a ninth-grade trumpet player –– were recognized at the Bellevue festival as outstanding soloists.

Williams leads a jazz fusion band called Ecstasy in Numbers. He has performed with a number of famous jazz artists, including Dizzy Gillespie.

“It’s a lot of fun for the kids to get to sit with a pro,” Bliss said. “It inspires them to play their best and it’s fun to see them rise to the occasion.”

Bliss has been recorded on albums with another band called FWM. He and Williams have played together, everything from fusion to Latin and jazz.

The fund-raiser will feature pieces by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Oliver Nelson and Arturo Sandoval. Bliss hopes the event will raise $4,500, which defrays the costs of band trips, instrument repairs and new music.

Adult tickets are $15 and senior and student tickets are $12. For ticket information, call 945-4649.

Staff writer Kenny Ching: 925-5565

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