Cleveland High Jazz 1977

Cleveland Jazz 1977I’ve had the good fortune to today to reconnect with a long-lost friend through Facebook. It’s hard to describe my feelings; he and I were so close and shared so many memories. I’m sure I’ll write more as time goes on after we get a chance to meet up and talk. But, today, he was kind enough to send me this photo. It was 1977 and the Cleveland High Jazz Band had won first place in a jazz competition up in Kirksville MO at the University. (present day Truman Univ.) This photo is back in St. Louis, I think at SLU high. Honestly, that year, our senior year, we were like rock stars. We played out countless times the spring of that year; I’ve lost track of all the places we performed.

So, that’s the two of us in the bottom-right of the photo, both playing French Horns. French Horns you ask? What are two horns doing in a jazz band? Well, it was because my dear friend Don simply wanted to be in the Jazz band. I drooled with envy over the thought, but would have never had the nerve to do anything about it. Don simply asked the band director and then announced to me that he was in. “He” was in, not “we” were in. He was in because he asked. Well, back in those days I was painfully shy and rarely willing to ask for anything. But, now…well, there was no way my best friend was going without me. We were a team. I walked into the director’s office and…asked. The answer was yes.

For any of you band-score aficionados wondering where we got our charts for two horns in a jazz band, our brilliant band leader wrote them all out by hand. He loved the idea of being different. No other high-school jazz band at that competition had a horn, much less two of them.

It was, quite simply, the best times of my life. The camaraderie that we experienced as we traveled around St. Louis, setting up, performing, tearing down, getting out of class…it was indescribable.

One thought on “Cleveland High Jazz 1977

  1. Interesting story, I never knew why there were French Horns in the Jazz Band, had I known it was that easy I might have gotten the nerve to ask if he could use a flute player! I was happy to be learning Alto Sax in the Jr. Jazz band. The atmosphere was contagious and the rest of us were happy to hang around with and in the glow of the ‘rock stars’. I was luck enough to be one of the bus fillers for the trip to Kirksville, it was awesome!
    When I wanted to play piccolo, Mr. Mickens said yes the same way, I was just a sophomore that year and felt it was a great honor. He also let me play in the pit orchestra for Kismet. Whenever I wanted to borrow various other woodwind instruments over those couple of years he said yes. Now that I think of it, he never said no. I think his saying ‘yes’ to all of us made us feel like the sky was the limit for us musically back then! Thanks for sharing the story and the picture!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>