Entering our studios to meet the early-arriving all-star jazz combo from Lake Stevens High School, our sessions engineer John Kessler tells me, "This might be the best School of Jazz band yet!" Well, all right!
It was certainly a fun day for everyone involved, as the band's mentor was the west coast sax great and 3-time Grammy nominee Pete Christleib. Pete charmed us all with stories of his amazing life in jazz, including his thoughts on sax icons like Gerry Mulligan and John Coltrane (he's a Mulligan fan), and his 20 years with the Tonight Show Band.
Mr. Christleib inspired these five jazz teens from up north to wonderful performances on a pair of standards and a terrific tune by Centralia-based flugelhornist and composer Dmitri Matheny called "Perfect Peaches".
Raphael Zimmerman's skills on trumpet and flugelhorn were dazzling, with talented fellow seniors surrounding him. We especially enjoyed a chance to hear the saxophone playing of Manny Aldape, one of our School of Jazz guest DJs from this past summer. Manny pointed to Christleib's tip to play fewer notes with patience as a lesson he won't soon forget.
With this entire ensemble graduating at the end of the school year, Lake Stevens H.S. jazz band director Neil Proff will have a lot of talented chairs to fill next fall. The younger students certainly have a high bar set for them by this fine group of future jazz stars.