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Bands from South and Central Jersey take part in Mainland Jazz festival

LINWOOD — The Mainland Jazz Bands — Jazz Express directed by Derek Rohaly and Jazz Prep directed by Michael Daly — had their annual Mainland Regional Jazz Band Festival on Friday, April 12.

Middle School and High School bands were eligible for the festival. The festival hosted bands from South and Central Jersey. Each band performed a program of three jazz charts on stage while professional jazz musicians gave ratings, comments and feedback.

After the performance on stage, the student musicians were given valuable time with one of the judges in a clinic setting. The judges gave personal feedback and helped the students work through difficult sections of the music. The three professional jazz musicians who judged this year were Ed Vezinho (alto sax), Jim Ward (trumpet) and Brian Betz (guitar).

The philosophy behind the festival hosted at Mainland Regional High School is education. Many festivals only have a performance on stage and lack the important educational clinic.

Mainland’s Derek Rohaly said, “It is important that each band receives an opportunity to work with a professional jazz artist, hear their stories, and see how their experience has shaped their playing as pro jazz musicians.”

Continuing with the education philosophy, all schools are given a rating — gold, silver or bronze — rather than a first place, second place, third place etc. ranking. Along with the rating, the judges select an outstanding section from each school (saxes, trumpets, trombones, rhythm) and name an outstanding soloist from each school.

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