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Jazz Fest in tune with schools

POULSBO — The lights shone down on the North Kitsap High School auditorium stage Friday night, featuring not one, not two, but six of the top high school bands from Western Washington as part of the 30th annual Viking Jazz Festival.

And at the end of the night, there were winners, but definitely no losers as each band was able to — at the very least — lend their ears to some swinging beats and learn a few things, said NKHS band director David Dunbar.

“You can learn something from any group, either what to do or in some cases, what not to do,” Dunbar reiterated.

In his third year at NKHS, Dunbar said changes both on the surface and behind the scenes of it have taken place during the past few years and have brought the festival back up to the near top-notch quality that attracts the best regional bands.

“Our greatest compliment can be found in the fact that the festival is once again bringing in ensembles and adjudicators of the highest caliber,” Dunbar said. “In previous years, they had been taking their business elsewhere, but a quality product has brought them back, and we are extremely appreciative.”

Of the 23 high school bands that played at the festival, the Garfield High School Jazz Ensemble I, under the direction of Clarence Acox, was the most prolific. GHS was the winner of the competition portion of the festival and simply captivated the audience, Dunbar said.

“Once we placed each division, then we took the overall points winner and that was Garfield,” he said. “They were amazing. They just blew people away.”

Overall champion Garfield I was the also the best of the 3A/4A division, while Squalicum High School came in second and the Mount Si Ensemble I finished third.

In the 1A/2A division, GHS again reigned supreme as its Ensemble II took first prize while Ferris Ensemble II finished second and Snohomish Ensemble II came in third. The winners each received plaques corresponding to the place in which they finished, while each of the 41 junior high and high school bands that performed attained insightful instruction and advice from the Festival’s six esteemed adjudicators.

“Most bands use this (festival) to get a gauge of where they are, as a prep for the other festivals they go to,” Dunbar said.

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