MIHS Jazz bands place at Jazz Festival

Local jazz bands snare honors

Two Mercer Island jazz bands snared honors at the recent 30th annual Bellevue High School Jazz Festival.

The Mercer Island High School Jazz Band, directed by David Bentley, won fourth place in the high-school AAA division. Daniel Rowe, trumpet, was named an outstanding festival soloist. In addition, the Islander Middle School Jazz Band, also directed by Bentley, won third place in the middle-school division.

Nearly 50 middle-school, junior-high and high-school jazz bands from throughout the Northwest participated in the competition May 4-5. "Thirty years ago, renowned drummer Buddy Rich agreed to play at Bellevue High School for $5,000, so this Jazz Festival was started as a way to cover his expense and for students to compete, learn and listen to professional musicians," Edd George, Bellevue High School director of bands, told those attending. "We're proud to have had this event continue annually and evolve into one of the largest school jazz festivals. We appreciate the involvement of the students, their families, the schools and the community to ensure jazz continues to thrive as an educational experience."

In addition to the school competition, the festival showcased performances by the Music Works Jazz Orchestra, and the Bellevue High Jazz Band with festival adjudicators Vanessa Sielert, saxophonist and University of Idaho professor, Reuel Lubag, jazz pianist, and Vern Sielert, University of Idaho assistant professor of trumpet and jazz studies director. Music educators Bruce Gutgesell and Paul Harshman also adjudicated during the event.

The festival is the primary way music-education funds are raised for the entire Bellevue High band program, George explained. He thanked festival sponsors, which included Access Printing, Bake's Place Jazz Club, Bellevue Downtown Association, Bellevue School of Music, Bellevue Wolverines Football Boosters, Bis on Main, CaféPirouette, Chace's Pancake Corral, Donn Bennett Drum Studio, Edible Arrangements, 520 Bar & Grill, Gilbert's On Main, Ginza Japanese Restaurant, Kennelly Keys Music, Mediterranean Kitchen, Pagliacci Pizza, Pho All Day and Toy's Cafe.

For a complete list of festival honors, see


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