‘Showcase of musicianship:’ THS hosts annual Swing Into Spring concert

Published 3:27 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Smooth melodies and rhythms filled the air of Thompson High School’s cafeteria as Alabaster residents gathered together for the school’s annual Swing Into Spring concert.

Thompson High School hosted its annual Swing Into Spring Concert on Friday, April 12 at 6 p.m.—featuring the talents of many students in its Jazz Combo, Jazz Lab Band and Jazz Ensemble programs.

“(It was) just an extraordinary showcase of musicianship by all our students at Thompson,” said Graham Bennett, director of bands at THS. “It was amazing what kind of level of musicality these kids continue to reach but not just that, (they accomplish it) on top of everything else they are doing.”

During the concert, each jazz group at THS took turns performing a variety of tracks, including older material from Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

“Jazz is truly an American art form,” Bennett said. “We find that really hitting the roots is important.”

However, the jazz bands also brought with them more contemporary pieces of music, including Alan Baylock and even the rock group Guns N’ Roses as well as a few professional arrangements.

One of the featured acts of the evening was THS’ Jazz Combo group which is an optional class that takes place before the start of the school day begins and features bass guitar, guitar, piano, a vibraphone and several wind instruments. According to Bennett, the class started with only three or five students but now it has reached 18-20 students.

“That’s an unofficial class but that’s what makes it so special, that so many kids still want to come out and be a part of it,” Bennett said.

THS also has a Jazz Lab Band which is comprised of students from its jazz lab course that provides an intro to the genre.

“They typically play medium grade level music to get the kids used to the style of jazz, the articulations of jazz, the musicality of jazz and just the enjoyment of jazz,” Bennett said.

Bennett said the Jazz Ensemble serves as the school’s borderline collegiate level group and is formed out of students that really want to push themselves further in music.

The annual Swing Into Spring concert allowed the jazz bands a chance to perform for local residents and family members and also served as an opportunity to prepare the students for the jazz performance assessment for the state of Alabama which will take place on Thursday, April 18.

“I don’t think it could have gone any better,” Bennett said. “I think it was incredible showcase of their performance, their musicality and really a great step and a great direction for this Thursday and Friday.”