It’s spring, and the Davis High School Jazz Band is once again preparing for the annual Coconut Grove fundraiser Saturday, as well as a trip to the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey in early April.
With the multipurpose room at Davis High School out of commission due to a leaky roof, this year’s Coconut Grove event will take place at the Emerson Junior High School Indoor Commons, 2121 Calaveras Ave.
In addition to the DHS Jazz Band, performers will include the jazz bands from Emerson and Harper junior high schools, Celia Cottle’s J Street Jazz Cats and Sax by Popular Demand, and another group called Crazy Eights. The Emerson MPR will be set up with tables and decorated in “coconut cabaret” style. Light appetizers, desserts and “mocktails” will be available.
Proceeds from the event benefit the entire band program in the Davis school district. Tickets are $25 general and $10 for students, and may be reserved in advance by calling (530) 757-2253 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets also will be available at the door.
Check-in will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, with music from 7 to 10 p.m.
Evan Hamaguchi, a junior who plays tenor sax, said, “Coconut Grove is a lot of fun for us, with all the groups that participate. The cabaret setting is really relaxed, and less formal that a concert where we’re on up on stage and the audiences is sitting in rows of seats.”
Lauren Boulanger, a junior who plays alto sax, said this will be her third year performing at the Coconut Grove: “I started when I was an eighth-grader. Coconut Grove is fun because they set up ‘trees’ as decorations, and it’s themed.”
Hamaguchi and Boulanger are also looking forward to the Monterey trip. The Davis High Jazz Band will play on April 2. Hamaguchi said performing at the Next Generation festival is a challenge — “It’s probably the hardest that we’ll be working all this year. It’s even a little daunting, knowing that we want to meet people’s expectations.”
Boulanger said she’s excited about the trip “because I know last year’s Jazz Band was really good. … We all have to step up our game for this trip. I’m going to take a camera and get lots of pictures.”
Band teacher Fred Lange said the trip to the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey has become something of a tradition.
“We started going in 1990, and we have gone almost every year,” Lange said. “It started as a festival of the best bands in California, and it’s become a festival featuring the best bands from around the world. There are people who come from Australia and Canada and the United Kingdom.
“To be chosen as one the 12 bands that is recognized means a lot. The top three winners are invited to perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival in September, and we have done that three times.”
Lange said that for Next Generation, the DHS Jazz Band is preparing three numbers: ” ‘Business as Usual’ is by Bret Spainhour. It’s a combination of swing and Latin styles. Evan Hamaguchi will be the tenor sax soloist.
“We’ll also do ‘Fantasia on Kang Ding Love Song’ by Eric Richards. It was composed in 2008 for the Shanghai Conservatory of Music Jazz Ensemble. Our soloist will be pianist Mei Zhang — she played it at home for her parents, and they knew the melody — it’s a traditional Chinese tune.
“We will also play ‘Atlantis,’ which was written by pianist McCoy Tyner and arranged for jazz band by Bob Washut. It’s a full-blown fusion jazz tune, and we will feature guitarist Noah Wolfe as our soloist.”
Lange said this will be the first trip to the Next Generation festival for many students in the DHS Jazz Band.
“We had a lot of seniors last year, and of course they graduated,” Lange said. “For this trip, we have a lot of students who joined the band last fall, and the festival will be a new experience for them. They’re excited.”
Lange added that he hopes Davis voters will think of the DHS Jazz Band and other musical ensembles around the school district when they cast their ballots on Measure A during a vote-by-mail special election to be held in April and early May.
Several music teachers in the Davis school district have been “pink slipped” and stand to lose their jobs if voters fail to muster the two-thirds majority needed to approve the two-year, $200-per-home parcel tax that Measure A would authorize, Lange said.
The junior high jazz bands at Emerson and Harper are among the ensembles that would be cut if Measure A comes up short of the mark, he said.