THS jazz bands “Swing into Spring”

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

ALABASTER – Guests were treated to four hours of jazz provided by different ensembles from Thompson High School on April 17 at the “Swing into Spring” concert.

The jazz program at the school invited people to come and hear the smooth sounds that the different groups had been working on, as an alternative to some of the end-of-the-year concerts that they normally host.

The bands were set up on a stage in front of the fountains that sit in front of THS, so that the event felt like a real concert.

Graham Bennett, director of jazz studies, said that he set up the concert as a way to showcase the talents of these groups, which included students and faculty, in a safe outdoor setting where everyone could feel comfortable attending.

“It went really, really well,” Bennett said. “We had several hundred people come out throughout the event. From what I could tell, the temperature was just right and it was a beautiful sunny day. There was plenty of space so everyone was able to sit together safely.”

The ensembles that played throughout the concert included the THS Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Lab Band, Jazz Combo I, Jazz Combo II, Percussion Ensemble and Faculty Jazz Combo. Each of these groups played jazz favorites and other pieces they had been diligently working on to entertain the guests at the concert.

Bennett said that one of the best parts of the concert for him was the enjoyment that he saw on the faces of his musicians.

“I think most of them were having the time of their lives,” he said. “It was one of the most wonderful ‘back to normal’ kind of events. Motivation and excitement set them up for some of the best playing that they have done all year. This was some of the best performing that they have done all year.”

This excitement was returned by the friends, family and school faculty who all attended to support the hard work of the ensembles.

“The crowd reacted really well to how we played, and it was the first time in a long time that the students had an opportunity to have that,” Bennett explained. “It could not have gone smoother. Four hours seems like a long time for a concert, but it felt like it flew by. I could tell that the crowd was really enjoying themselves.”

Bennett said that with the success of this concert, he hopes that he will be able to do similar things in the future, so that the students and faculty in the jazz ensembles have the opportunity to showcase their talents more often.

“I have gotten several emails and follow up conversations with people who said they really enjoyed the concert,” Bennett said. “After talking with the administration, we are hoping that we will be able to do something like this again in the future.”

See more photos from the event at Shelbycountyphotos.com