Monday, February 27, 2017

Jazz Bands 'Superior' and 'Outstanding' in Boyertown

Photo courtesy of Missy Weber
The Pottstown High School Jazz Band performed at the 47th Annual Jazz in B-town Jazz Festival at Boyertown Area Senior High School on Saturday.

Hello faithful readers, and welcome to another season of Pottstown High School Jazz Band coverage in The Digital Notebook -- a little bit later than it should be, and a little bit lamer than it used to be.

But we'll get to that later.

Thanks to the Twitter account of the Middle School's 7-8 Jazz Band, I learned late Sunday that our junior jazzers not only earned a "Superior" ranking at the 47th annual Jazz in B-town jazz festival Saturday at Boyertown Area Senior High School, but also Best Rhythm Section and a solo award for Alto Saxophonist Kishan Patel.

Good going. Unfortunately, the videos posted of the 7-8 Band on the Pottstown "Band Peeps" Facebook page could not be captured for inclusion here.
Photo by Evan Brandt
Jazz band representatives Eddie Butler and Casey Mest
are congratulated on their ranking by Boyertown Band
Director Brian Landgon, a former Pottstown music
teacher and friend to our program.

Later in the evening, the Pottstown High School Jazz Band received a rank of "Outstanding," which, for the uninitiated, is above "Excellent" but below "Superior," in the world of jazz band rankings.

They were up against some stiff competition Saturday, particularly from the Quakertown and North Penn Navy Jazz bands, each of which were ranked superior and captured most of the section and solo awards.

"I hate them, they are so good," one envious Pottstown Jazz Band member was overheard to say of North Penn.

The three pieces played by Pottstown were, "Things Ain't What they Used to Be," "Summer Never Ends," which is a feature piece for senior trombonist Kyle Kratzer (who I have known since I coached him in soccer, many, many, many years ago) and ending with "Hit the Bricks.")

And this is where technology failed me as it did last week in Phoenixville.

Photo courtesy of Missy Weber
Pottstown senior Kyle Kratzer, who intends to
attend Millersville University to become a music
teacher, performs "Summer Never Ends."
In Phoenixville, I tried an experiment.

For those new to our Jazz Band coverage, know that I live-stream videos of the performances on a Twitter-related program called Periscope, for those who may not find the blog or only follow me on Twitter, and might not be able to make it to the performances.

So in Phoenixville, the first festival of the season, I tried live-streaming Pottstown's entire performance, instead of stopping between songs like I usually do.

It broadcast but did not save to my iPhone as it is supposed to, I'm not sure why.

You see the problem with Periscope video is it expires after 24 hours, so I usually upload it from my phone into my YouTube account so the videos can be watched any time after the 24 hours are up.

The visual quality ain't hot, but hey, you go a jazz performance for the sound right?

So that's why I did not post about the Phoenixville performance, where the band received a "Excellent" rating. That and the fact that Pottstown was on about 5:30 p.m. and the event did not end until 10 or later. A guy's gotta sleep you know.

I often try to record or at least broadcast some of the other area schools The Mercury covers because I'm nice like that.

Photo Courtesy  of Missy Weber

The rhythm section of the Pottstown High School Jazz Band.
So when it came time for Boyertown, I resumed my old ways and broadcast three different songs individually but the last one, "Hit the Bricks" was not saved on my phone for reasons I won't pretend to understand.

So I did some Internet searching and found a program called "webrecorder" which allowed me to preserve the Periscope video of "Hit the Bricks." Like the other YouTube videos, it is embedded in the Storify of my Tweets down below, but I warn you the sound quality is poor.
Photo courtesy of Missy Weber
Some of Pottstown's brass and sax players at work in Boyertown.

I also recorded all three performances by Boyertown, even though, as the hosts, they were not graded as part of the competition.

Also because director Brian Langdon, who cut his musical educator teeth as a Pottstown music teacher, always has so much fun and elicits great performances from his students.

It may also have something to do with a great feeder program, like the one Langdon initiated for Pottstown. The Boyertown Elementary Jazz Band played between some of the high School performances and they were pretty darn good for little kids!
Photo by Evan Brandt
The Boyertown Elementary Jazz Band played a few tunes between high school performances.

Of course, because technology likes to taunt me, all three of Boyertown's performances saved to the iPhone and are posted the usual way below.

Photo courtesy of Missy Weber
She was even kind enough to shoot a picture of my son,
senior Dylan Brandt, during one of his solos. Thanks!
And, as an extra treat, I also recorded (and posted below) one of the three pieces played by Pottstown's own Sunnybrook Dance Band, of which Langdon is a member, and which has closed out ever Boyertown jazz festival performance that I've ever attended.

As an additional note, perhaps you've noticed that some of the photos here were taken by Missy Weber, whose son Julian has gamely moved from the trombone to the keyboard and whose daughter Emily is the bass player for the band.

She posted it on Pottstown's "Band Peeps" Facebook page and graciously allowed me to grab them for this post.

I urge others who take photo or video to contact me and make it available to help promote and celebrate the jazz band. The email that is attached to this blog is

As you might imagine, it's hard to take photos and shoot video at the same time, as things move along at a pretty good clip at these jazz events. So if you have photos or video that you think are good, I would be happy to use them.

Chances are if you've shot full video, it's better than mine and I would just as soon preserve yours as mine. I just like to get them as quickly as possible so the coverage can be immediate.

And, you'll get the same pay I do ... that would be the satisfaction of throwing a spotlight on our school's musicians in something remotely reminiscent of the way we so breathlessly cover high school sports.

So without further ado, here are the Tweets and video below from Jazz in B-town.

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