Night of the livin’ blues

By Sydney Dauphinais, Staff Writer

With months of preparation behind their belt, Tigard High Jazz Bands and Guitar Ensembles performed their sets Saturday night for “Night of the Livin’ Blues” to a cafeteria full of almost 300 supporters.

Candles were the centerpiece of every circular table, giving the venue a dim lighting. Colorful stage lights were shone onto both stages, facing each other from opposite sides of the room. Curtains of a deep purple color lined the walls and were accompanied by an assortment of handmade decorations. The cafeteria was so well decorated that it had a vibe of a genuine blues club. According to Director of the Guitar Ensembles Jerry King, this was the goal.

“I thought how cool it would be to convert the cafeteria into a club atmosphere. We try to give the kids real live entertainment opportunity and experience with what it’s like to play for an audience who is very comfortable eating food and talking to one another. It’s much different than a concert with everyone sitting there staring at you,” says King. “In education for a while there was a real strong push to connect this [the guitar program] to careers. I thought, ‘well, if they’re going to perform, one of the first places they’re going to perform is in a club.’ It falls right into this category of connecting education to profession.”

Members of Jazz Lab, the Jazz Ensemble, and the Guitar three and four classes performed a wide variety of songs, ranging from a Guitar four group performance of George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone,” to a Jazz Lab performance of “The Blues Walk”, originally by Clifford Brown. It was a night chock full of impressive performances, and the overall success was the evident outcome of a variety of factors.

Both jazz ensembles had been preparing for Blues Night for several months, with band director James Irving selecting music for the event since the end of the last school year. The Guitar three and four classes had also been rehearsing with their own performance groups for months, scheduling countless after school practices in an attempt to get the sound just right.

Irving and King are known for striving for both perfection and professionalism to the highest degree in everything they do, and they run their programs by holding their students to the same standard.

“I think they just really know the game,” says senior Parker Ediger. “They’ve got so many years of experience both teaching and performing this style of music so they know how to get kids to perform at a high level.” Ediger has been playing the alto saxophone in the jazz ensembles for all four years of high school. This was his last year playing in Tigard’s “Night of the Livin’ Blues”.

Fortunately enough for the supporters of Tigard’s music ensembles, Blues Night isn’t the only time where the Jazz Bands and Guitar groups can be seen playing in the same venue. Both programs hold an event later in the year, but they will be playing Latin music as opposed to the “hot jazz and cool blues” of Blues Night. With the tremendous success that a performance this early on in the year held, the young musicians are already anxious for their next performance.