Saxophonists, from left, Brian Folley, Mark Youngren and Jared Oleson accompany trombonist Johnny Rysdyk during a solo.
Photo by Jenny Neyman
Jazz fans had a sweet evening Jan. 15 and 17 at Soldotna High School.
Audiences were treated to cheesecake and a variety of musical offerings, from Celtic-inspired to jazz standards, swing and even a Billy Joel tune during the SoHi jazz band's annual evening concerts.
The dessert concerts are a tradition that raises money for the music program. There are five performing groups at the school with 74 students in band. Eighteen musicians made it past auditions to be accepted into the jazz band, which meets before school on opposite mornings as the swing choir.
Band members not in the jazz group still had a part to play, serving cheesecake and beverages to the concert crowds.
The jazz concert's popularity has grown to where it needs two nights to accommodate everyone wanting to hear - and eat - what the band serves up.
"We try to hit as much as we can, even with a little classical violin in there," said Vernel Schneider, SoHi music director. "Everybody seems to appreciate the variety."
There's a chance for everyone to appreciate each performer, as well, since each musician has to take a turn at a standard element of jazz performance - the solo.
"We try to use everybody that's in the group," Schneider said. "Some are definitely more comfortable performing, and usually that comes with experience. We're still an educational process. They're not always perfect, but that's performance. We strive to do the best that we can."
Jenny Neyman is the communications specialist with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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