Traveling from Battle Ground to Kansas City, the advanced jazz band of Battle Ground High School had quite the trip. They recently learned about history and got invited to perform at the Basically Basie Jazz Heritage Competition during the Kansas City Jazz Summit.
Battle Ground’s advanced jazz band ended up achieving first place and upright bass player Dalon Goodwin was honored as Outstanding Musician for the rhythm section. The trip to the jazz summit in Kansas City took place from April 25 to April 28.
A lot of time and effort went into the planning of the trip by the Battle Ground High School Band Boosters, Cherie Cloke, vice president of the Battle Ground High School Band Boosters, said.
She added that the community support was tremendous as $24,000 in donations were raised in short notice for the big trip.
Goodwin was originally planning to be a percussion musician but his sixth grade band teacher made him stick to playing bass. Goodwin said he fell in love with being a bass player after a while. The hard work paid off as he received the individual award at the summit.
“It meant a lot. There were a lot of people there and to be the one person winning that award, it felt good,” Goodwin said.
Not only did the jazz band and chaperones take part in the summit, but they also toured a brass instrument factory and explored the rich jazz history of Kansas City. They went to the American Jazz Museum and visited the grave of legendary saxophonist Charlie Parker.
“I learned a lot more about jazz and got a bigger appreciation for it. I didn’t really know a lot about jazz I realized because there’s so much history behind it,” trumpet player Jonah Lipovich reflected.
Clair Moss is another key player for the band as not only does she play the baritone saxophone, but she’s an incredible vocalist.
“I like both of them for different aspects. I feel like instrument is always a good time, it’s always so much fun,” Moss said. “But vocals I can really put some passion and really put my mind and my personal experience into it.”
Music director Greg McKelvey has been at the school since 1997. In what could be his last year as music director before possible retirement, leaving Kansas City with such high honors meant a lot. The banner the jazz band was given at the Basically Basie competition will be added to the dozens of trophies his bands have earned under his leadership.
“It was a packed house and everybody was there including all of our competitors. When we played our last number, when we were done the whole place was standing,” McKelvey recalled. “That’s when I said, ‘OK, maybe we probably did pretty well.’ It’s one thing to get a standing ovation from parents and people that know the kids, but when you get a standing ovation from people including other band directors that know music, that means a lot.”
A judge during the first day of the heritage competition told the band after their performance, “I just want to say, is there any chance I can hire some of you guys. This is an absolute treat and I can’t wait to hear you tomorrow.”
The judge further complimented that band’s outfits, which have been a staple of McKelvey’s bands. The tuxedo look has always been a huge hit.
“I come from old school and you know there’s an old saying that people don’t hear music they see music. When a group comes on looking as good as you do, it says you mean business,” the judge said.
Ares Turner plays guitar for the jazz band, but is also the leader of the marching band. As a senior this year, he reflected on the tremendous opportunity and memories made on their trip to Kansas City.
“I know how important and how big of a deal this is because it’s like, where else in your life are you going to be able to go out to Kansas City, a really like big city when it comes to jazz, and play at the high school level in a national competition, let alone win it?” Turner said.
McKelvey said his goal is to have his students work hard but to also have a good time. Their enjoyment was certainly on display during a recent morning rehearsal as smiles filled the band multiple times in the middle of the jazz songs they played. McKelvey also works with middle school band students to prepare for high school, which is a huge factor in the program’s success over the years. Not only does Battle Ground High School have an advanced jazz band, it also has two intermediate jazz bands that help the learning process and ensure no one interested will be cut from the band.
Jazz enthusiasts and others will have an opportunity to hear the jazz bands during the district’s band festival on May 30, according to Battle Ground Public Schools.
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