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Bringing the bop: Jazz at the Loft features East Ridge combos

Jazz 1, one of two ensembles at East Ridge High School, will perform April 20. Submitted photo courtesy of Brent Comeau

WOODBURY — Two student jazz combos are set to blow up a storm Friday, April 20 at East Ridge High School.

The annual Jazz at the Loft concert features the Jazz I and Jazz II ensembles. The setlist includes music by Count Basie, Billy Strayhorn, Miles Davis and Stevie Wonder.

There will be a special guest appearance by a band led by trombonist and composer Dean Sorenson, whose day job is director of Jazz Studies at the University of Minnesota.

All three will take the stage for the finale, a rendition of "Hurricane Season" by Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews.

There will be cafe-style seating in the cafeteria, where audience members will be served hors d'oeuvres, beverages and dessert. It will resemble a smoky jazz club, minus the smoke.

East Ridge freshman Brandon Alpers plays tenor sax in Jazz II, which comprises freshmen and sophomores. Alpers, 15, of Cottage Grove, began playing jazz in the sixth grade at Cottage Grove Middle School.

His favorite song in the show is "Cold Duck Time," a rock/jazz fusion number written by Eddie Harris.

Alpers and his classmates have honed their chops with twice- weekly practice sessions since mid-November.

"A lot of us are in marching band, too," he said. "We're pretty close. We just love to play the music so it's not difficult to gel, I'd say."

He said they're up to the task of navigating the hairpin turns, time changes and harmonic trap doors that make jazz - whether it's swing, bebop or fusion - an adventure and a challenge.

"In jazz there's a lot of articulation, staccato, and off beats," Alpers said. "There's a lot of off beats in jazz. That's kind what gives it the cool, syncopated feel."

Brent Comeau is director of Bands at East Ridge High School

If you go:

Doors will open at 7 p.m., with music starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 and include hors d'oeuvres, beverages and dessert. For more information, call 651-425-2335 or visit www.eastridgebands.org.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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