Knoxville Jazz Band completes successful competition season

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KHS Jazz Band (photo from Knoxville High School Bands Facebook page)

The Knoxville High School Jazz Band recently finished its competition season with strong results.

“It was a fun year,” Band Director Ben McCartney said. Competitions began with the State Jazz Band Contest, where the band earned a Division “II” rating. That’s not a bad rating, but McCartney says it is not the rating that typically sets bands up for further success.

Musicians dug in after State and improved to the point that they earned two second place finishes and a first place in their remaining three contests. Second place finishes came at Southeast Polk and Indianola, while the title came at Woodward-Granger. This was the best the Jazz Band has done in the time McCartney has been at the helm.

“As long as they’re having fun, making good music and working hard to get better, I’m happy,” McCartney said. They typically have not stayed for many awards sessions, but they did this year.

Selections played included “Hit the Bricks” by Gordon Goodwin. Riley Newendorp was a vocalist on this tune as well and did an exceptional job. Featured instrumentalists on this piece included Brianna Norman on tenor sax, Jonathan Watson on trumpet and Tanner Errthum on drums. “Rocks in my Bed” by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn featured instrumentalists Lane Franck on alto saxophone, Angelina DeSocio on clarinet and Jonathan Watson on trumpet. Finally, “Hullabaloo” by Alan Baylock, featuring Brianna Norman on tenor saxophone, Alec Schultz on bari sax and Ethan Murra on drums.

McCartney says this has been a great group of students to work with. Everyone enjoyed themselves just a little more when they realized how well they were doing and could hear their improvements.

Band members are working on material for the solo/ensemble contest on March 28. A concert will be held March 26. On May 8, there will be a combined band and choir concert and an all-school (grades 6-12) band concert on May 19.

In the meantime, McCartney says the Jazz Band will perform at various events. They will continue to work on their jazz music through the year as they welcome new members for the 2020-21 school year.

Band members this year included Lane Franck, Alexia Davis, Lily Yocum, Isabella Day-Suhr, Bailey Finken, Briana Tille, Brianna Norman, Ben Clodfelter, Angelina DeScocio, Alec Schultz, Jonathan Watson, Jayce Hughes, Daniel Bennett, Emmett Schmidt, Joey Hembrook, John Krasko. Caleb Murra Ethan Murra, and Tanner Errthum.