For 24 years now, SM East’s jazz band has put on a special performance for the community on Jazz Night. And this year’s concert promises to be especially special.
This year, both SM East jazz bands — the Blue Knights and the Blue Notes — have received top ratings at all the local competitions they’ve entered. The Blue Knights are the only band in the state of Kansas to have been invited to the “Essentially Ellington” National Jazz Band Competition, which is held in New York City and directed by Grammy-winner Wynton Marsalis. What’s more, the bands have 10 all-state and 14 all-district musicians.
It’s fair to say the program has come a long way since director Kim Harrison first came to SM East 28 years ago. When he arrived, there wasn’t a jazz program. He started an extracurricular jazz band, and by his third year, a jazz ensemble was officially part of the school’s music program. Ten years later, interested had grown large enough that SM East added a second jazz band.
“This community has a cultured, sophisticated clientele that supports jazz in Kansas City,” Harrison said. “Because of this, we have been able to develop a program that is significant to the school, the students, and the community at large.”
Tonight, the bands will play a selection of jazz standards from Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Charles Mingus, among others.
“Sing, Sing, Sing and It Had to be You are two selections that the audience should truly enjoy,” Harrison said.
Jazz Night starts at 7 p.m. in the SM East auditorium. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.