All jazzed up

The saxophone section practice's Queen's "Bohemian Rapsody," during an early-morning rehearsel. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

The saxophone section practice’s Queen’s “Bohemian Rapsody,” during an early-morning rehearsel. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Austin students are jazzing up the town and getting ready for a big show next weekend: the Paramount Jazz.

This will be the third annual student jazz show at the Historic Paramount Theatre. Austin Public Schools Band Director Bradley Mariska started the show when he came to Austin with hopes of showcasing the jazz band in its own concert.

Aleesha Anderson fingers the notes as guest instructor Brian Koser plays a part from Queen's "Bohemian Rapsody," during an early-morning practice Wednesday morning for the upcoming Paramount Jazz Show. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Aleesha Anderson fingers the notes as guest instructor Brian Koser plays a part from Queen’s “Bohemian Rapsody,” during an early-morning practice Wednesday morning for the upcoming Paramount Jazz Show. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“It was a great success,” he said. “So we continued it last year and now we’re in year three.”

This year’s concert will take place at 3 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 15, at the Paramount. It will include performances by Austin High School Jazz One, Austin High School Packer Jazz, Ellis Middle School Jazz Band and I.J. Holton Jazz Band. The students will also be joined by special guest soloist Brian Koser.

“It’s been great because he’s been able to come in and work with my groups a few times,” Mariska said.

Tickets cost $5 in advance online at www.austinareaarts.org, or $7 at the door. Mariska has been impressed by how the jazz show has grown over the last two years — the first year drew about 350 people, and the second year about 450 — and hopes for an even bigger turnout this year.

“It’s definitely growing and people are excited about it,” Mariska said. “It’s a unique concert and a unique setting.”

“I think that it’s a great reminder of how much the community appreciates the music program here at Austin,” he added.

Executive Director of the Austin Area Commission for the Arts Jennie Knoebel has also been excited to see the amount of people come to the shows in the past years.

“We’ve had really great crowds the last two years,” she said. “It’s been a really popular show.”

Mariska and Knoebel would love to see each seat in the Paramount filled. Mariska said this has become one of his favorite times of the year and one of his favorite concerts to work with.

“It’s a really great opportunity to showcase one type of music that the kids are excited about,” Mariska said.

Knoebel has been glad to partner with the jazz band each year.

Brad Gerlach plays with the saxophone section during an early-morning rehearsel for the upcoming Paramount Jazz Show. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Brad Gerlach plays with the saxophone section during an early-morning rehearsel for the upcoming Paramount Jazz Show. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“It’s been a great partnership with the Austin High School jazz band,” Knoebel said.

The partnership helps raise funds for both the Austin High School jazz band program and the Paramount, and it is a joint effort. Mariska organizes the show while organizers at the Paramount provide production support, venue and promotion of the concert.

“It’s a really great event, especially because it also gives the students a chance to perform in a different venue than their school auditorium,” Knoebel said.

It has also given students the chance to perform with an outside musician, such as Koser who will perform this year. Previous years have also hosted musical groups.

Mariska mentioned the many awards the band and choir students received at a music competition a few weeks ago and said that contest has helped get the students amped up for the upcoming show.

“We’re doing some really great music the kids have been working on for a month or two now,” he said excitedly.

The two high school jazz bands will follow this concert by going to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Jazz Festival at the end of February, and the University of Wisconsin Eu Clair Jazz Festival at the beginning of April.

“This kind of gets us geared up and ready and figure out what kind of music we’ll play at this festivals,” Mariska said.

Knoebel noted the Paramount will also host another jazz group, The New Standards, at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 12.

“So it’s almost going to be like a jazz week at the Paramount,” she said.

The New Standards will also work with students during the day that Thursday.

 

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