Jazz groups join for memorable performance

Edison High senior Richard Graham recently gathered his and Fountain Valley High's jazz bands for what many hope will become an annual performance.

The Edison High School Black Box Theater was the venue for the show May 23. It was the first in which the two groups performed together.

The performance was the culmination of Richard's senior CIBACS (Center for International Business and Communication Studies) project. CIBACS is a four-year program at Edison featuring competitive projects, job shadowing and internships with business partners.

All CIBACS seniors complete a senior project designed to reflect the student's interests, abilities and talents. Since Richard plays the trombone for the Edison jazz band, his senior project was to produce a concert showcasing the jazz bands of Edison High School and other local high schools. The Fountain Valley High School Jazz Band graciously accepted Richard's invitation to perform along with the Edison High School Jazz Ensemble.

The Fountain Valley band performed first, with Assistant Music Director Mark Irons announcing that this event was "not a competition; it is just about the spirit of music and sharing that with the audience."

The Fountain Valley student musicians performed "I'm So Excited," "I Feel Good," "Sesame Street" and "Soul Man." Then the Edison ensemble performed "Area 51," "Big Noise from Winnetka," "The Jive Samba" and "1.21 Gigawatts." Edison's Instrumental Music Director Tim Benge thanked the Fountain Valley High Jazz Band and Irons for attending, noting that the eventwouldn't be half the show without them.

Fountain Valley High School Band Booster member Andra Johnson, whose son Ian Johnson played the trumpet in the Fountain Valley band, said the concert featuring both bands was "a great chance for the kids to hear each other play" since they do not have the opportunity to do so during the rest of the school year.

Richard was responsible for all the logistics, including contacting the other schools, arranging the event through the Edison High activities office, booking sound and lighting technicians, arranging for concessions and many other tasks.

At the end of the evening, Richard shared his appreciation.

"Thank you to Dr. Benge for believing I could do this, and thank you for Mr. Irons for taking me seriously," he said. And to both bands, thank you for coming. I feel pretty good now."


On May 18, members of the Edison High Jazz Ensemble performed their 2013 program on the flight deck of the USS Midway aircraft carrier, which is docked in San Diego Harbor and acts as a maritime museum.

A few years ago, when Benge visited the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii, he watched the movie presented to the visitors and learned that in the days before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, most of the Navy ships there had jazz ensembles that regularly competed in band competitions. In fact, on the evening of Dec. 6, 1942, the USS Arizona jazz ensemble competed and won a band competition. After that viewing, Benge and the band boosters contacted the staff of USS Midway to arrange the performance.

"I thought it was great. It was incredible," said Edison junior and drummer Tommy Metzger. "It was a jazz show but a jazz show on the deck of the Midway. Jazz was important to the Navy in the '40s. We're continuing that tradition. It was a decent crowd that day too."

SUSAN DAVIS is a member of the Edison High School band boosters. Her daughter is a junior at the school and a member of color guard.

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