Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Blue Valley Northwest Big Dog Band win big at the Kansas City Jazz Summit


The Big Dogs had their way at the 2nd Annual Kansas City Jazz Summit at Kansas City Kansas Community College April 23-27.

The Blue Valley Northwest Big Dog Band took home first place in the Kansas City Jazz Heritage “Basically Basie” competition.

Directed by John Selzer, the BV Northwest band received 787 votes to out-distance runner-up Lee Summit North and third place Winnetonka in voting by text by members of the audience.

“I think voting by text was a first for a jazz competition,” said Jim Mair, KCKCC Associate Professor of Music and Festival Coordinator.

The text voting represented 25 percent of the total score.

Not including KCKCC instrumental and vocal groups, 31 middle school, high school and college jazz bands and vocal groups from three states took part in the festival, a 25 percent increase over the initial festival.

“Only two bands from the first Summit did not return,” said Mair.

In addition to the Jazz Heritage competition, 12 groups received outstanding band awards including Central High School from Tulsa, Okla.; Pershing Middle School and Willard High School from the Springfield, Mo., area; and Blue Springs South and Lee’s Summit high schools from the Kansas City, Mo., area. Kansas high school bands receiving awards included Augusta, Olathe East, Olathe North Jazz I and Jazz Choir and SM Northwest along with Washburn University.

“The awards were presented by the adjudicators to bands they thought to be extra special,” said Mair.

Three veteran musicians adjudicated the performances by the bands and also conducted clinics on saxophone and brass techniques and fine tuning for rhythm sections.

Adjudicating were Scott Prebys, 34-year Director of Jazz Bands at the University of Mary in North Dakota; Al Pearson, a Philadelphia native now living in Kansas City who mentored under and played with many of the legends of jazz; and Steve Molloy, the lead trumpet for the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra and an Artist in Residence at Missouri Western and adjunct Professor of Brass at KCKCC.

In addition to the participating bands, the KCKCC Jazz Combo and KCKCC Jazz Choir put on lunch concerts during each of the three days.

Sponsored by the KCKCC Intercultural Center and Music Club and produced by the Kansas City Jazz Alliance, the Jazz Summit opened with a “Big Band Extravaganza” Monday, April 23, with performances by The New Vintage Big Band and KCKCC Jazz Ensemble joined by Steve Molloy on trumpet and percussionist Scott Prebys.

Prebys was also featured with the KCKCC Latin Band directed by Jurgen Welge Tuesday at the KCKCC Spring Concert which also included two jazz combos directed by Mair. Former KCKCC jazz legend Lisa Henry and the Kansas City Jazz Quintet featuring Mair, Hermon Mehari, Charles Williams, James Albright and Mike Warren wrapped up the Summit with a concert Friday.

“It went well,” Mair said. “We got a lot of help from students, we ran on time and everything went smoothly.” Mair said more evening performances may be scheduled in 2013.

PHOTO: The Blue Valley Northwest Big Dog Band directed by John Selzer (foreground) won top honors in the Kansas City Jazz Heritage “Basically Basie” competition held as part of the Kansas City Jazz Summit at Kansas City Kansas Community College April 23-27. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)