One band, two bands, green band, blue band.
It was a very full stage at Longfields-Davidson Secondary School on Thursday, December 3, as the Ottawa Junior Jazz Band (OJJB) and the Nepean All-City Jazz Band (NACJB) presented their joint fall concert.
The two long-running Ottawa student bands each played a 45-minute set of classic big band pieces and more modern compositions, to enthusiastic applause. Then they had a surprise for the audience: the OJJB members joined the NACJB on stage for one last number, each fitting into their proper instrumental sections so that the blue OJJB shirts alternated with the green NACJB.
With 35 musicians and two conductors, it was crowded – and the bass players had to share the one amp – but students from both bands improvised in style, adding solos on the fly. They played “Air Blair”, an original by NACJB director Neil Yorke-Slader about the basketball successes of his twin brother, and gave it a fast, swinging treatment ending in a last, high, leaping fanfare.
It's a rebuilding year for both bands. The OJJB, who draws from Grades 9 and 10, has 14 new members out of 17 this year, said director Mandar Gumaste. Yorke-Slader said that the NACJB, who attracts older high school students, had a 50% turnover this year. He told the audience he had thought that his band might need a few practices to get acquainted – but then he discovered that 8 of the 9 new NACJB members had played together in the OJJB.
Both bands will present several more concerts next spring, starting by competing in the jazz band section of the Capital Region Music Festival in early March.
– Alayne McGregor
Read OttawaJazzScene.ca's related stories: