Last week, when I told Frank Hughes I was coming to the High School North jazz ensemble concert, he had a proviso - "wear a loud shirt and bring your horn." Hmm. Guess I'm going to be watching from the stage, I thought.
When I got to HSN at 7:00 pm, correctly dressed and presumably a half hour early, I found the whole band on stage, ready to go. Whoops! Bungled the time. I did get my horn out and Frank pulled me the third trombone book (as this group only has two bones, the whole rationale for Frank having me sit in).
We had a wonderful concert. Some of the kids are great soloists, and you could hear Frank's voice choke up as he was having to introduce his four-year players for the final time. Frank's daughter Kelly sang some songs, including the familiar Natalie Cole version of Milton Delugg's "Orange Colored Sky" that we in the Brass Tacks regularly cursed, and a gorgeous new version of "My Funny Valentine" arranged by the great Dave Wolpe. Frank even got out his trumpet and took a solo turn on "What Is Hip?", the classic by Tower of Power, bolstered by a number of HSN band alumni including sax player Frank Hughes Jr.
None of my former students were in the group (maybe in a few years that will change), but I did recognize one of Fred Oltarzewski's boys on bari sax (I actually go way back with the Oltarzewskis, knowing Fred's brother John since high school) and of course the massively talented Neil Foglio on standup and electric bass.
It was a fun night. Frank, thanks for the opportunity, and see you at the races!