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Examiner
  • Wildcat ensemble ready to jazz it up

  • The Blue Springs Wildcat Jazz Ensemble has already had a pretty stellar year.



    The group just returned from performing at the National School Boards Association annual conference. They were selected through a national contest of submissions from throughout the United States. It was the first time the group had submitted an audition tape.

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  • The Blue Springs Wildcat Jazz Ensemble has already had a pretty stellar year.
    The group just returned from performing at the National School Boards Association annual conference. They were selected through a national contest of submissions from throughout the United States. It was the first time the group had submitted an audition tape.
    "The NSBA Convention performance was an experience of a lifetime," said Tim Allshouse, director of bands at Blue Springs High School. "The performance was electric and the crowd was amazing. Wildcat Jazz received three standing ovations. The energy in the room just kept growing throughout the performance."
    Allshouse said one of the most meaningful moments was when he was watching the students be practically smothered by members of the Blue Springs administration and Board of Education in the backstage area. He said they really felt like superstars.
    "That evening we took the band to House of Blues to have dinner. As we were getting off of the bus, several of the folks waiting in line recognized the students. Then they erupted in applause and made a lane for the students to run through to go into the restaurant," he said. "I think teenagers really get a bad rap often in the media these days. I was so thankful that this bunch of students was rewarded for their hard work. They invested a great deal of time and practice, had to overcome incredible fears to perform for a room of 7,000 strangers and really knocked it out of the park."
    Now, the group is preparing for its annual concert, An Evening of Jazz. It is at 8 p.m. Friday at Blue Springs High School. The concert will also feature the Sunny Vale and Brittany Hill middle school jazz bands and the Blue Springs High School Jazz Lab II Band. Admission is $5.
    "It is our desire that people can be entertained as well as enjoy some of the great things that the students of Blue Springs are doing with their time. There will be a variety of music all evening – swing, rhythm and blues, rock 'n' roll, bebop, jazz ballads, jazz vocalists, etc.," Allshouse said. "The Wildcat Jazz Ensemble will close the concert with a fun mix of music and special lighting effects. It is not your traditional concert."
    Wildcat Jazz will also feature a new funk arrangement of the Bill Withers song "Lean on Me" arranged by Kansas City jazz musician Kent Rausch. The new arrangement was written specifically for Wildcat Jazz for the NSBA performance.
    "One of the hallmarks, core beliefs of Wildcat Jazz is to be entertaining, to make the music come alive on stage. It is both an audio and visual experience," Allshouse said. "We want the students to be entertainers, not just someone that plays an instrument. We really stress to WJE to not just be another jazz band, but to be a show band that engages the audience. We hope during the performance that the audience can escape the world for a little bit and can just enjoy the power of fun music and to just kick back and have a blast."
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