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Published: Monday, March 26, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Super Kid: Jon Vance, Mountlake Terrace

  • Mountlake Terrace High School senior Jon Vance is among the jazz band members headed to the prestigious Ellington jazz festival this spring.

    Dan Bates / The Herald

    Mountlake Terrace High School senior Jon Vance is among the jazz band members headed to the prestigious Ellington jazz festival this spring.

Q: So how does it feel to be a lead trumpet player in one of the best high school jazz bands in the country?
A: It's awesome. Last year when we went to New York to compete, we had a lot more seniors who are really good players. I was a little bit surprised when we were selected to be in the top five competition this year (at the Essentially Ellington Festival in May at the Lincoln Center in New York City). It was crazy when we found out. We're all guys, all 21 of us, but we were screaming and jumping up and down.
Q: Who else is in the top five?
A: Roosevelt and Ballard from Seattle and two performing arts schools in Florida. That's out of 111 applications from around the country. Terrace doesn't draw from a big population and we certainly aren't as well to do as the other schools. So for us this is really something to be proud of.
Q: There is a long tradition of Puget Sound area schools participating in the jazz contest in Manhattan. Other schools from the area that have gone include Edmonds-Woodway, Garfield, Newport and Shorewood. Why do you think so many of the best high school jazz bands are from King and Snohomish counties?
A: Some people in New York think we have something in our drinking water here. For Terrace, I know it's our director, Darin Faul. He's the real reason we are going this year. He is a good teacher and he knows the music well. He's amazing and I'm so glad he wouldn't let me quit band.
Q: What was the Essentially Ellington contest like this past year?
A: Well, for example, we had a question and answer session with Wynton Marsalis. He was really cool and I got to sit near him in a photo. And we saw a lot of our heroes perform.
Q: And your audition tape this year included a solo by you?
A: Yeah, on "Riding on a Blue Note" by Duke Ellington. This was a high point of my high school career.
Q: How long have you been playing trumpet?
A: Since fifth grade. I've had some master classes with professionals and I got some free lessons from a friend at church, but mostly I just practice. And if I don't play often, I lose my lip. The trumpet section has been together for five years now. We're a pretty tight-knit group.
Q: What else keeps you busy?
A: I have AP (advanced placement) classes in history, physics, statistics. I was captain of our school swim team. I have a weekend job in the kitchen at my church, University Presbyterian, and I've done some short-term missions projects with my church youth group, to Tijuana, Mexico, and other places. And when I am not doing these things, I am sleeping.
Q: Wow! What are your plans for next year?
A: I've been accepted at Western, Whitworth and the University of Washington. I'll probably study math.
Q: What sort of music do you listen to in your free time?
A: Jazz. Jazz. Jazz.
Reporter Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.
Hot Java, Cool Jazz
7 p.m. March 30 at the Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., Seattle. Sponsored by Seattle Theatre Group and Starbucks, the concert features the jazz bands of Mountlake Terrace, Edmonds-Woodway, Roosevelt, Garfield and Ballard high schools -- some of the best in the country and all headed to the Essentially Ellington competition in New York City. More information: www.stgpresents.org.

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