UWF jazz band welcomes Washington High players for combined concert

Sydney O’Gwynn

Staff Writer

The University of West Florida’s Department of Music held its jazz band concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Center for Fine and Preforming Arts in its Mainstage Theater.

The concert was different than most, because the UWF jazz band teamed up with the Booker T. Washington High School jazz band, directed by Lawrence Young, Jr.

UWF jazz band director Joseph Spaniola said it is special and rewarding to have Young back at UWF directing his own band, because Young is a UWF alumnus.

In a concert featuring classic songs by artists ranging from the Beatles to Stevie Wonder, Spaniola said he tries to select pieces to cater to the players in the band.

“We looked for pieces that fit our players; to lift them up as musicians but also teach them something in the process,” Spaniola said.

The program started off by introducing the high school’s band as they played three songs: “Shiny Stockings,” “Blue Rondo a La Turk” and “Cissy Strut.”

After those songs, the high school musicians exited the stage and the UWF band played seven pieces themselves, plus an encore piece, “All’s Well in Wellington.”

Then, in the final piece of the night, “Louisiana Hot Sauce,” the two bands played together. The song featured many solos with instruments such as the trumpet, saxophone, piano and drums.

Neil Teller, who plays the alto saxophone in the UWF jazz band, said his favorite piece of the night was “Softly from My Window” because he likes the composer, Sammy Nestico. Teller also said that the two bands had gotten together earlier that day and split into sectionals to discuss the different styles of their position’s instrument.

“It was really interesting,” Teller said. “That’s something I really enjoy.”

Teller also said he liked seeing the young, up-and-coming players.

“It’s really nice to see that there’s some good talent in the area,” he said. “There’s going to be some good players coming in.”

Jacob Dearrington, who plays trumpet in the UWF jazz band, said his favorite piece was the encore, because of the fast pace and the swing as well as the trumpet section in the piece. Dearrington, who was a featured soloist in the concert, said he loves playing the trumpet and performing in front of people.

“I like to see the smiles,” he said. “I love the applause and the happiness it brings to the people.”

Dearrington said both groups learned a lot from the collaboration.

“They got to learn from us and we got to learn to teach,” he said. “It’s a good experience for both of us.”

Spaniola said he liked the outcome he got from both groups playing together.

“They play well together,” he said. “Combining the groups was a lot of fun. That was the best part about it; we had fun.”