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Samohi Jazz Musicians Sweep National Competition  

By Lookout Staff

March 14, 2011 --The Santa Monica High School Jazz Band and Combo went to town at the Berklee College High School Jazz Festival in Boston, taking two ensemble wins and top soloist prizes, sweeping a competition that featured 300 bands from around the country.

The Samohi musicians' showing at the national competition, held at one of America's premier music colleges, was a high mark – even as accustomed as Santa Monica students are to winning significant awards.

“The students represented their state, city and school with the utmost professionalism and class once again,” said music instructor Tom Whaley, “and we are so very proud of all the hard work and community that resulted in a virtual sweep of the Berklee Jazz Festival.”

After a grueling 13-hour day, Samohi's jazz musicions won first place in the highest divisions at the festival – Division 1 Big Band and Division 1 Combo.

And, playing guitar, Jake Noveck won first place for big band soloist while Steven Gordon on piano won first place for jazz combo soloist.

Gordon and Noveck traded off for second place, with Gordon winning second place honors in the big band soloist competition, as Noveck won second place as combo soloist.

Eli Brown won the “Outstanding Musicianship” award for his “incredible work” as lead trumpet player.

On top of their wins, Samohi was given four 50 percent scholarships – more than awarded to any other school at the festival – to the five-week Summer Jazz program at Berklee.

At the end of the day's competition, the ensembles performed in the evening on the main stage at Boston's Hynes Auditorium as a live video feed was made available to their proud parents back in Santa Monica.

“We are so very fortunate to have such an amazing music program in our district,” Whaley said. “Congratulations, Samohi Jazz Band!”


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