THS Jazz Ensemble gearing up for national jazz competition

By EMILY REED / Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – The Thompson High School Jazz Ensemble is one of 12 schools across the nation gearing up to attend a national jazz competition in March.

“Right now we are in preparation for the trip,” said Justin White, assistant band director at THS. “We are trying to raise the necessary funds to attempt to lower the cost for students, and we are working to get the music prepared.”

THS students from the THS Jazz Ensemble will take part in Swing Central Jazz from March 29-March 31 in Savannah, Georgia.

Swing Central Jazz is a three-day workshop and competition with a “collective approach to big band jazz instruction,” according to Savannah Music Festival’s website.

White said in preparation for the competition, the students have received instruction from Ray Reach, director of student programs with the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

White said the Shelby County Arts Council helped in allowing Reach to work with the students.

Once in Savannah, students will perform in a competition round, they will perform outdoors on the Riverwalk, they will watch performances by the Michigan State University Jazz Department, and they will receive instruction from the department and visit with trumpet player, Marcus Printup.

“There are 12 groups from across the nation selected to attend,” said THS band director Jon Bubbett. “There are groups coming from as far as Oregon. This is not something you just sign up for and go, you have to be selected.”

THS students, all juniors and seniors, went to UAB in October 2016 to record song submissions to be considered for the competition.

The students were later notified they had been selected as one of the schools to attend.

White said currently, the students are hoping to raise about $2,000 additional funds to help with the cost of the trip for each student.

“This is a great opportunity for our students, and we are really looking forward to the trip,” White said.

Anyone wishing to donate toward the cost of the trip can call THS at 685-6700.