On March 7, 82 students who make up the Little Falls Jazz Program headed to the Twin Cities for a day filled with jazz and fun. Students from Jazz Ensemble II, Jazz Ensemble I and Jazz Combo started their day at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, college devoted to students seeking a profession in the arts industry
The faculty at McNally is made up of Grammy® Award nominees, Broadway veterans, authors, major label rockers, Billboard chart toppers, commissioned composers, accomplished producers, and industry executives who care deeply about their art and the next generation of music makers.
The day started with a concert featuring a jazz combo made up of students and faculty members who wowed us with screaming jazz improvisation solos. Next came a tour of their amazing facilities including state of the art recording studios. All of the students received clinics on their respective instruments from pretty renowned musicians on the top of their field. The three primary clinicians were Gary Raynor, Pete Whitman and Scott Agster,
Raynor’s diverse credits include working with national jazz artists Richie Cole, Claudio Roditi, Herb Ellis, Mark Murphy, Clark Terry, and performing for dozens of Broadway touring companies such as West Side Story, Phantom of the Opera, A Chorus Line, and Victor, Victoria. He has also toured with Sammy Davis Jr. and performed with the Count Basie Band, and is currently bassist for The Guy’s All-Star Shoe Band on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” national radio show.
Whitman has spent over 25 years teaching and playing professionally as a saxophonist, flutist, and clarinetist. He has toured the U.S., Japan, and Brazil with the Glenn Miller Orchestra and has also performed with such distinguished ensembles and musicians as the Minnesota Orchestra and the Woody Herman Orchestra
Agster has performed all over the world with such distinguished groups as The UNT One O’Clock Lab Band, The Dallas Jazz Orchestra, the Glenn Miler Orchestra, and Doc Severinsen Big Band. Scott has had the opportunity to work and perform with many acclaimed artists including Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, Dave Douglas, Phil Woods, Nicholas Payton, Stefan Karlsson, Slide Hampton, and Paul McKee. He’s recorded 21 CDs including the Music of Frank Sinatra (Bella Galla Big Band) and Traditionally Speaking (Jack Brass Band
After McNally Smith, the band stopped quickly at the Como Zoo, and then enjoyed some hor devours and the music of ‘The Irv Jazz Quartet’ at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis. The Band finished the event blowing off some steam at Brunswick Zone late into the evening.
“The appreciation and love of playing jazz has really grown in he past few years at Little Falls Community High School,” said Director of Bands, Jonathan Laflamme. “Approximately 70 percent of all band students are in a jazz ensemble.”
The public can hear jazz performed by students at Mary of Lourdes, the Community Middle School and the aforementioned ensembles from the high school at the annual Jazz Night happening at the Little Falls Community High School Charles D. Martin Auditorium Monday, March 31, at 7 p.m.