WHS jazz musicians to compete at Clark

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While many of us are still poking at our oatmeal, a group of Woodland High School students is jamming to the music of Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus.

Meet the 15 members of the WHS Jazz Band, who at the end of January will be laying down some crazy licks at Clark College’s 53rd Annual Jazz Festival.

“Woodland’s jazz ensembles have had a long history of success at the jazz festival,” said Jazz Band Assistant Director Bryana Steck, noting that the band took second in its division in 2014. “This year we are definitely contenders again.”

WHS Jazz Band

Selected by audition in May, the band gathers before school every Tuesday through Friday, all school year long. Whether Steck tosses them a piece of swing, Dixieland, funk, fusion or hard bop, the students give it a shot.

“There are not a lot of high schoolers listening to Dizzy Gillespie,” she observed, “but these are very curious young musicians with a lot of potential.”

She should know. Steck is a 2002 Woodland High School graduate and Jazz Band alumna. Now she’s got her bachelor’s in music and is finishing her master’s in educational psychology. This is her third year working with the Jazz Band—alongside her father, longtime WHS band director Paul Cline.

Check out the Jazz Band’s chops from December’s Holiday Concert.

Or catch them in person Jan. 30 at the Clark College Jazz Festival, where they will reprise “Harlem Nocturne” and “C Jam Blues.” More information is available on the Clark College website. 

“It’s great to get trophies and all, but we’re just glad to go down and have fun, listen to some good bands and see the kids do well,” Steck said. 

WHS Jazz Band

 Photo credits: WHS photography class